Opened in 1999, the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail in Salem (just outside of Roanoke) is associated with Southern Virginia's impressive Civil War history. The northern trailhead at Hanging Rock was the site of the 1864 Hunter's Raid, in which General John McCausland's Confederate forces won a substantial victory against the retreating Union army under the command of General David Hunter. The site is marked by a monument along State Route 311.
Start at the Hanging Rock trailhead with the understanding that this is primarily a pleasant walk if you’re already in the neighborhood, and not necessarily a destination trail. Parking is plentiful, and you can hit the convenience store and gas station next door to stock up on provisions. On the trail, you can absorb the Roanoke Valley's beautiful wooded scenery; the corridor winds along Mason Creek and Kessler Mill Road.
After passing under Interstate 81, you will soon enter the township of Salem. The trail curves through a residential area, and houses flank the trail until you reach the southern trailhead at Timberview Road. If time permits on your return to the northern trailhead, take a quick jaunt on the short hiking trail at the Hanging Rock trailhead. It meanders along Peter's Creek right up to I-81.
To reach the Hanging Rock trailhead from Interstate 81, take Exit 141 (State Route 419 toward Salem/New Castle). Turn north onto SR 419 and continue on SR 311. The parking area for the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail is on the left (adjacent to the parking area for the convenience store), or across SR 311 at the monument.
To reach the southern terminus from I-81, take Exit 141 (SR 419 toward Salem/New Castle). Turn south on SR 419/N. Electric Road. Go approximately 1 mile and turn right onto Dalewood Avenue. Take the first left onto Garst Street. Turn left onto Kessler Mill Road and drive 0.5 mile to the parking lot on the right.