How to See Lower Cascades Falls at Hanging Rock State Park

Last Updated on September 7, 2021

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If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.

Out of all the gorgeous waterfalls at Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County, North Carolina, our absolute favorite is, without a doubt, Lower Cascades Falls! This 35-foot waterfall empties into a shallow pool and is quite popular on hot days.

In our opinion, this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina. It can be reached by just a short walk, making it a great start to a day of exploration at Hanging Rock State Park.

We’ve been visiting this waterfall for years and have picked up on a few tips we’d like to share. Here’s how we’ve organized this guide so you can enjoy this beautiful place, too!

  • About the Falls
  • Lower Cascades Falls Driving Directions (Where to Park)
  • When to Visit
  • The Lower Cascades Falls Hike
  • More Things to Do in Hanging Rock State Park

This post is part of our series on North Carolina State Parks and our favorite hikes and waterfalls in North Carolina.

About the Falls

Lower Cascades Falls

Lower Cascades Falls is formed by Cascade Creek dropping down a 35-foot stone wall. Cascade Creek actually stems off from the lake inside Hanging Rock State Park.

The waterfall flows into a nice-sized pool with plenty of surrounding land to sit and take it all in.

Lower Cascades Falls Driving Directions

Lower Cascades Falls is near the town of Danbury in Stokes County, with the nearest major city being Winston-Salem. It’s also a decent day trip from Greensboro in the Piedmont Triad, Durham and also, Raleigh in the Research Triangle, and even Boone.

We recommend adding Lower Cascades Falls or its address (2143 Hall Rd, Westfield, NC 27053) to your GPS before driving there, as phone service is spotty in the park and the towns around it.

If you don’t have service and need to get to Hanging Rock State Park from the trailhead, turn left out of the parking lot onto Hall Road. Follow Hall Road until you reach Moores Spring Rd, where you’ll turn right toward the park.

Taking a left at Moores Spring will take you back toward Danbury and away from the park.

When to Visit

Lower Cascades Falls Hanging Rock State Park NC

The Lower Cascades Trailhead has minimal parking, so we recommend arriving as early as possible. If you arrive before 10 am, you shouldn’t have a problem, but the area gets very busy, especially on weekends and the warmer months.

Park rangers will be enforcing parking, so please park in designated areas only. If you can, try to arrive before 10 am or late in the afternoon. Many times, we’ve started with a visit to Lower Cascades Falls before moving on to hike the Hanging Rock Trail or others around the park.

As far as when to visit for the best photos, the scenery is beautiful from spring through fall. It’s hard to beat the colorful fall foliage, but the greens of spring and summer are exquisite here, too.

The Lower Cascades Falls Hike

The Lower Cascades Trail is one of the shortest at Hanging Rock State Park (0.4 miles one-way), another reason it’s among the most popular. The hike begins with a mix of gravel, dirt, and rock before transitioning into a set of stone and wooden steps.

There are about 170 stairs to reach the valley where the waterfall is. Once there, you’ll find plenty of places to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of gushing water. The pool itself isn’t dangerous, but we still recommend water shoes or sandals when dipping your feet in the water, allowing some protection from the natural surfaces at the bottom.

Leave No Trace and Be Safe

Lower Cascades Falls Trail Warning Sign

Before visiting Lower Cascades Falls, we want to remind you to keep this waterfall beautiful and leave no trace. Trash does NOT belong anywhere on this trail or any other.

We always urge caution when hiking, but Lower Cascades is one where we will again recommend that you stay on the designated path. That includes avoiding the top of this waterfall. Serious injuries have been reported here.

Ready to See Lower Cascades Falls?

Lower Cascades Falls is always at the top of our list of things to do in Hanging Rock State Park. We make regular trips to this wonderful spot in Stokes County and look forward to our future visits.

If you’ve visited, we’d love to know what you think of this waterfall. In case you haven’t been yet, let us know how your first trip goes and what you thought of this place!

More Things to Do in Hanging Rock

Beyond Lower Cascades Falls, there are plenty of other things to do inside and outside the gates of Hanging Rock State Park. Embark on more hikes, and try mountain biking, climbing, and making a whole weekend of it by camping at the park.

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