I love to go camping with the family. We’re mostly overnight campers, but even just 24 hours away from home is a luxury. That’s 24 hours without TV, movies, video games, tablets and phones. A full 24 hours to talk to each other, take time to listen, hike, play and sit around the campfire.
One of my favorite times of the year to go camping is the fall. The weather is usually pretty good, since October is typically a dry month for the Triad and surrounding areas. The days are still warm enough for hiking and outdoor activities without being unbearably hot and muggy like in the summer months. And while the nights can get pretty chilly, it just makes it even better to sit around the campfire at night.
So last weekend we decided to take advantage of a free weekend and take the kids camping to one of our favorite spots, Hanging Rock. A word to the wise: If you want to camp at Hanging Rock during October, make your reservations at least a month ahead of time. We usually like to camp in the Upper Loop where the sites are larger and flatter, with plenty of space for the kids to run around. This time those were all taken, so we ended up in the Lower Loop, which worked out just fine. It was nice to have a little different view of the park.
Once we had everything set up, the kids were raring to go. This time we chose to hike Cook’s Wall Trail. It left from the campsite, and after hiking up for about a mile, you’re rewarded with a great view and a fire lookout that you can climb up and see a bird’s eye view of the mountains. On the way up you’re helped out by manmade steps, so you don’t have to worry about kids tripping on a rooty path.
We have done the Hanging Rock trail before, which can also be done with kids. But that trail gets pretty narrow and rocky at the top, and there are some steep drop-offs as you get to the higher elevations, so I opted out of that one this time with an adventurous 7-year-old who isn’t quite sure of his footing yet.
Of course, the best part of the whole trip was making s’mores around the campfire. There’s nothing like crawling into a warm sleeping bag with sticky fingers and clothes that smell like woodsmoke.
Looking to take a camping trip with your kids sometime soon? Here are a few tips:
- Pack lots of snacks! Being outside makes you hungry.
- Bring lots of water. You want to stay hydrated for your hiking adventures.
- Don’t skimp on the marshmallows. For every one roasted, the kids will probably eat three right out of the bag.
- Scour your house for some things to play with outside. Those electronics-oriented kids will need something to do. We love the Frisbee, and my friends say their kids’ favorite activity is playing in a hammock!
- Don’t be afraid to call it a day. Cold, rainy? Go home. If you’ve made plans to stay two nights but the forecast for the second is calling for rain, it’s okay to pack up and go home. My philosophy is, it’s better to have a positive experience and want to come back than to suffer through and wind up miserable.
Plan Your Trip
Hanging Rock State Park reservations and information.
Hanging Rock State Park Trails and Descriptions
Other Camping Opportunities in Stokes County