Wednesday, October 23, 2013

DuPont State Forest and its waterfalls

Although the main goal of the weekend was to catch up with our friends on the Blue Ridge Parkway, nothing could keep us from some sightseeing along the way. Western North Carolina is known for Asheville, the Biltmore Estate and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but it also has some of the most beautiful waterfalls in our little corner of the world. In lieu of the highways we took the straight route of back roads into the mountains, leaving the rain behind us after crossing the ridge of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area and Caesars Head State Park.

Low visibility at Caesars Head meant the view from the summit was of fog
After the impromptu stop at Caesars Head our next destination was DuPont State Forest, just over the North Carolina/South Carolina border. Only about 40 minutes from Asheville and an hour from Greenville, this 10,000 acre state-managed forest has over 900 miles of hiking trails. I had scouted out a <3 mile route that would include three separate waterfalls but not prove too strenuous for those in our party with the shortest legs. Some of you might recognize these falls from the movie The Hunger Games, which was filmed in DuPont including around Triple and Hooker Falls, two of the falls on our itinerary. We parked in the Hooker Falls area, but headed first to Triple Falls.

Triple Falls from the overlook
Consisting of three distinct cascades and dropping about 120 feet total, these falls were also featured in the movie Last of the Mohicans. The first overlook was just a short distance from the parking lot, and a few hundred feet further is the spur trail that leads down to the large rocky area between the falls. We unpacked our picnic and enjoyed the spectacle – natural and human – before jumping back on the main trail.

Lunch at the rocky area at Triple Falls
Triple Falls trail and High Falls trail form a loop, but we chose to stick close to Little River on High Falls trail and cut out a bit of the mileage by doing a there-and-back. Triple Falls trail heads further west, hitting Buck Forest Road and intersecting with High Falls trail and the Covered Bridge Trail about 1/3 mile from High Falls; we didn’t get that far, instead opting to turn around after the High Falls overlook.

High Falls and the covered bridge from the overlook
We did however take the short River Bend spur trail that leads to the base of the 150 foot cascade. The largest of the falls in the area, there is a beautiful covered bridge at the top that was built as a part of a planned real estate development in 2000. After a lengthy legal battle the state was able to purchase the land from the developer, ensuring the three waterfalls would forever be available to the public. Another 2 miles upstream you will find 120 foot Bridal Veil Falls, but we were headed back to Hooker Falls.

At the base of High Falls
After crossing back under Staton Road and over Little River we turned west on Hooker Falls trail. Pausing at the observation area above the falls we then circled down around to the base of the 12 foot waterfall. From this cascade Little River flows into Cascade Lake, outside of the state forest’s boundaries. Although smaller than the previous, Hooker Falls was no less beautiful, and it took a steady drizzle to finally force us back to the car http.

Hooker Falls

For a detailed description of the trail options available in the Hooker/Triple/High Falls area as well as a map, please click here.

Kidding Around Greenville

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