Whether you’re the type who wants to take a relaxing walk or get out for invigorating exercise as part of your family vacation, the DuPont State Forest, and its waterfall trails, located only about forty minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina offer a getaway for anyone who appreciates nature, waterfalls and a bit of pop culture.
Nested within the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, the DuPont State Forest is a 10,400 acre area of land between Brevard and Hendersonville, according to the North Carolina forest service. The forest contains more than 80 miles of trails and road—areas popular for hiking, mountain biking and riding horses. (We saw evidence of all as we hiked along.)
But for our group, the payoff on a number of these trails was the waterfalls. One particular hike, which is a little less than three-miles roundtrip, allows you to spend time at least three waterfalls (there are more, depending on the season and if you can find them all).
Hooker Falls is a fairly short walk—roughly ¼ mile– from the parking area. The approximately 11-foot waterfall has a spot known for “wading” at the base, and two different views of the falls—one from below and an observation area above. Forest officials explain it was named after Edmund Hooker, a man who operated a mill below the falls in the late 1800’s. Movie buffs may recognize it from the movie “The Last of the Mohicans”—in the scene where characters go over the Hooker Falls in canoes.
Walking upstream, you’ll find signs leading to Triple Falls. In another ¼ mile or so, you’ll hit this series of three waterfalls (hence its name “Triple Falls”). An area of the walking trail may wind you for a moment as it ascends fairly quickly, but you’ll recover almost as fast. And once there, a long staircase (more than 100 steps—yes we counted), with small benches for those who need to take a break, allows easy access to the falls.
Once you arrive, you’ll likely want to walk all along the falls’ edges. Some (like my husband, brother-in-law and the kids) may be tempted to walk across them and even up them on the seemingly flat rocks. But do take note of the serious warning signs posted around the falls reminding hikers that others have fallen, injured themselves, even died there. In wintertime, in particular, the current can be very heavy and if you slip, you’ll certainly be up the waterfall without a paddle—well you know what I mean. That said, after you’ve returned home, be sure to watch “The Hunger Games”—as scenes with Katniss and others were filmed there and at Bridal Veil Falls. (Did you notice “Katniss’ pond” at the bottom of Triple Falls?)
Finally, as its name would suggest, if you keep heading up, you’ll hit the High Falls—the largest waterfall there, with a 150-foot water cascade. Again, there is plenty of climbing around the falls, but signs warn of slippery rocks near the base. A picturesque covered bridge at the top allows for a great photo backdrop. (Next year’s holiday card anyone?)
No matter what time of year you’re traveling, there’s much to see—but of course, the autumn provides for some impressive “leaf peeping” and the spring/summertime allows for a water respite as well as some lovely picnic spots. Bring your walking poles should you need them, or find some natural walking sticks along the way—and enjoy!