Hiking or Mountain Biking during autumn at DuPont Forest is one of my favorite times to visit. The area is a great place to ‘get lost’ in any season, but as a photographer I really favor fall for its raw beauty, cooler temperatures and the amazing color display. With dense forests, hidden lakes and scenic view points, it is a truly stunning time to explore. The colors and scenery around the area are truly amazing and you can see up to three or four waterfalls in just one trip.
The DuPont State Recreational Forest was created in 1997 when the DuPont Corporation sold 7640 acres of land to the State of North Carolina through funding from the National Heritage Trust Fund. Since then, conservation fund purchases and additional land acquisitions by the state have brought the total protected area to 10430 acres.
The forest recreation area is located in Henderson and Transylvania counties between the cities of Hendersonville and Brevard. The land is part of a temperate rain forest that receives around 80 inches of rain a year, so you may want to keep that rain gear handy when your hiking or out for a ride. DuPont Forest also participates in the NC Wildlife Resources game lands program. Hunting is allowed with permits, so be aware of hunting seasons.
With 86 miles of trails and multiple parking and access points, a little planning may help you decide which trails you want to explore. The area is quite large, so you may need three or four visits to thoroughly explore all that DuPont has to offer. Most visitors to the recreation area head straight for the High Falls access area and hike the popular 3 mile round trip trek to Hooker, Triple and High Falls. If your up for something longer, consider adding on a visit to Bridal Veil Falls which will bring your hike to around 7 miles. This hike, mostly on old logging roads, will also cross over the covered bridge at the top of High Falls.
With over 80 miles of trails, the area is fast becoming a favorite destination for mountain bikers, so weekends are often busy. Consider visiting earlier in the day and during the week. The High Falls parking area also has a visitors center and restrooms. You may want to stop in to grab a trail map and more information or visit http://www.dupontforest.com/visit/maps/ to download maps of the area.
Other hikes and trails at Dupont:
- Cedar Rock Mountain – A 4.5 mile moderate loop trail that will give you great views of the areas amazing scenery.
- Bridal Veil Falls – 4.4 mile round trip moderate hike to a large 120 foot waterfall. This area was featured in the movie ‘Last of the Mohicans’.
- Hooker Falls – 1/2 mile easy stroll from parking area to a wide 12 foot waterfall. This is a great spot for picnics and a popular swimming hole.
- Triple Falls – 1 mile roundtrip hike from parking area. There are stairs leading down to the middle tier of the falls. Triple Falls was one of several filming locations for the 2012 movie ‘The Hunger Games’.
- Wintergreen Falls, Grassy Creek Falls, Stone Mountain.
Directions: Take I 40 to exit 46A for I 26 East towards Hendersonville. Take I 26 east to Exit 40. Turn right off Exit 40 onto NC 280. Take NC 280 south 16 miles to US 64. Turn left onto US 64 and go 3.7 miles to the stop light. Turn right onto Crab Creek Rd and go 4.3 miles to DuPont Road. Turn right onto DuPont Rd and go 4.2 miles. Note that DuPont Rd becomes Staton Road.
Leave No Trace – 7 Principles
1. Plan ahead, Be prepared.
2. Travel and camp on designated trails and surfaces.
3. Dispose of waste. Pack in – Pack out.
4. Leave what you find.
5. Minimize campfire impacts.
6. Respect wildlife – Flora and Fauna
7. Be considerate to others