Hanging Rock Overlook Trail is a little-known trail almost exactly equidistant from Roanoke, Virginia, and Lewisburg, West Virginia. The overlook is only about a half mile from the parking area and it’s a very easy half mile. There is almost no elevation change.
But as of midsummer 2022, the trail could use a little maintenance (a bit overgrown but passable) and was not well marked – fortunately, there’s just nowhere else to go so you follow the path!
The good news is that this is definitely a hidden gem! It’s a little bit of a smaller summit than other Roanoke-area hikes like McAfee’s Knob (I actually passed this trailhead on my way to Hanging Rock Overlook). But as a result, you also have a really good chance of getting it to yourself!
In Virginia’s summertime, it’s common for the forecast to predict a 50 percent chance of rain. But due to the mountains the rainclouds get blocked or diverted, and it either doesn’t rain at all, or they kind of get trapped and the rain downpours.
This was a downpour situation.
It rained heavily the entire time I drove to the trailhead to meet Stephanie and Stephen for their anniversary photoshoot. Stephanie is a bigger hiker and actually founded the group Girls Who Hike Virginia but apparently she doesn’t go out in the rain. She messaged me the day before the shoot and was like…”So what happens if it rains?” To which I responded glibly, “We get wet!”
In central Virginia where I grew up – namely around Shenandoah National Park and the Shenandoah Valley – it’s pretty unusual for it to rain around sunrise. Typically what happens is that even if it rains overnight it will stop right around sunrise and then begin again a few hours after sunrise.
I’m learning that is not necessarily the case in southwestern Virginia!
By the time we got to the trailhead, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, but heavy fog had settled in around us. At the summit, the view was completely obscured.
Which is honestly a big bummer because the view would have been stunning!
But after I shot for about 10 minutes, the drizzle turned into rain in earnest.
Fog + rain means there is little point in staying at a summit with slick rocks so we decided to hike back down and take a few photos in the woods instead.
Stephan has a big Ford truck so I had the idea of turning on the headlights and having them dance in the rain in front of the truck. The light from the headlights illuminated the rain and demonstrated just how hard it was coming down! The fog hung in the trees behind the truck. The road was a muddy mess.
But honestly? Those are my favorite photos from the session. They are wild and playful and romantic.
Interested in Hanging Rock Overlook for your own session? Get in touch with Kara here!
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