Little Stony Falls–Hanging Rock Trailhead
Highlights: 24 foot high waterfall, scenic views of deep gorges, lush cove hardwood forest.
Length: six miles round trip, three miles to the falls.
Directions to Trailhead: Take Route 72 north out of Dungannon toward Coeburn for 2.6 miles. Turn left at a large sign into the Hanging Rock Recreation Area at a hairpin curve.
Facilities: Restrooms, picnic areas and drinking water are available at the trailhead during summer.
Little Stony Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail because of its
majesty and ease of access. This beautiful hike runs up the bed of an old railroad along a moderate incline that becomes steeper and more rocky toward the end.
On the other side of the trail, steep cliffs 400 feet high cocoon the hiker within a gorge that was created when water eroded away the bedrock along the Hunters Valley fault.
Massive bridges were helicoptered in by the National Forest Service. This keeps your feet dry as you pass a series of smaller waterfalls before emerging on top of the 24 foot high Little Stony Falls. (A slightly smaller waterfall about half a mile downstream warns of the main attraction’s approach.)
A bridge across the top of the upper falls lets you stand immediately above the roaring water while a deep pool at the base of the falls tempts hikers to cool off on a hot summer’s day.
The boulders and the cliffs along the sides of the gorge makes for a beautiful four
season hike. In winter, icicles cascade below mountain laurel and hemlock. Spring is the perfect time to search for delicate flowers like Spring Beauty and Hepatica in this lush hard cove hardwood forest. Summer hikers are regaled by Louisiana Waterthrushes and Swainson’s Warblers among blooming rhododendrons. Fall brings brilliantly colored foliage to round out the year.
(For an easier hike, start at the northern trailhead and walk only one mile round trip to reach the falls. At the other extreme, overnight hikers can spend two adventurous days walking the Chief Benge Scout Trail, beginning on the top of High Knob and ending of Hanging Rock.)
This area has reportedly seen sightings of Big Foot and, once a year, a local hiking club takes a hike in search of the elusive creature. Not recommended for young children nor the “faint of heart.”