Jun292015

Chasing waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, Western North Carolina

One of the beautiful sights of my road trip was the geologic change driving from the South Carolina lowlands across the state to the Appalachian Mountains. The road was dark and the rain fell as I crossed the first mountain pass dropping into the valley with Asheville, North Carolina.

North Carolina

I had not seen anything that even resembled much in the way of a hill after three days of driving in the southeastern United States. There is a reason they call the South Carolina coast and interior The Lowlands.

Asheville is beyond the first real mountain ridge in Western North Carolina, a geographic region of mountains and valleys and rivers. Asheville developed as the railroad transportation hub for the region. West of Asheville is one hundred miles of some of the most sparsely populated country in the southeastern United States. I arrived in Asheville via Interstate 26 from South Carolina.

Chasing Waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, North Carolina

Rivers and mountains equate to waterfalls. Western North Carolina is one of the best places in the United States to find waterfalls. Movies like The Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans came to western North Carolina to film waterfall scenes.

I left Asheville, North Carolina and headed southwest to find Dupont State Forest, about 40 miles away. The name derives from the former owner, Dupont Corporation, who sold 7,600 acres of land to the State of North Carolina in 1996-1997. The former industrial facility and 2,200 acres of land around the manufacturing plant were sold to Sterling Diagnostic Imaging in 1996.

A tract of land in the center of the DuPont State Forest containing several prominent waterfalls was not part of the original acquisition by the State. Sterling Diagnostic put the waterfalls tract of forest on the market in 1999. A real estate developer bid $6.35 million, outbidding the $5.5 million offer from The Conservation Fund.  Failing to secure public right-of-way to the waterfalls with the new owner after a two-year environmental battle, North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt and the Council of State voted October 23, 2000 to invoke eminent domain and ultimately $24.5 million was paid by the state to the developer for the 2,200 acre waterfalls tract in the center of the DuPont State Forest.

History of DuPont State Forest – DuPontForest.com

DuPont State Forest   Waterfalls trails

There is a parking lot and visitor center for the waterfalls trail walk. The two main waterfalls are High Falls and Triple Falls, which can be hiked on a maintained trail in a trail loop. Circular hike takes about 30 minutes.

High Falls

High Falls drops along a 120-ft. inclined plane of granite along the Little River.

Continue on the trail downhill and Triple Falls is about a ten minute walk.

Triple Falls

Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest

Triple Falls was used in a scene from the film Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis. The ruggedness of Western North Carolina served as the film setting for the story, originally based in upstate New York in 1757 during French and Indian War in the northeastern colonies as the French and English battled for control.

Triple Falls-2

Downstream from Triple Falls, DuPont State Forest

Triple Falls is accessible to hikers with a wooden staircase leading to the granite slabs beside the Little River at the lower set of falls.

Continuing downhill and across the river over a pedestrian bridge is Hooker Falls. There is a parking lot at Hooker Falls where you can hike up to Triple Falls and High Falls. The best choice for starting point to hike the falls is whether you want to start out walking uphill (from Hooker Falls lot) or downhill (from DuPont State Forest Visitor Center lot).

The steepest part was the walk is between Hooker Falls and Triple Falls. I did not feel the walk to Hooker Falls was worth the hot hike downriver after seeing the more spectacular falls upriver.

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest, North Carolina

DuPont State Forest diorama

Visitors can hike to several other waterfalls in the DuPont State Forest. Bridal Veil Falls is one of the other popular hikes. This is the waterfall where you can walk behind the cascading water. Bridal Veil Falls was a prominent scene in the movie Last of the Mohicans. I did not hike to Bridal Veil Falls, due to a long drive ahead along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

More waterfalls and stunning vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway made for an amazing road trip day. I was glad to have hiked for 90 minutes chasing waterfalls in DuPont State Forest before the long day of driving through rural western North Carolina to reach Tennessee.

Loyalty Traveler Road Trip Orlando to Knoxville June 4-9, 2015

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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