Since North Carolina’s acquisition of 7,600 acres of land from chemical corporation DuPont Corp in 1997 – and an additional 2900 in the interim – the better known DuPont State Recreational Forest has been a popular playground for mountain bikers, hikers, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life.
A short thirty to forty five minute drive from Asheville, DuPont offers some of the most scenic, and easily accessible, hiking trails in the area. A few weekends ago, I loaded up the dog and headed out to DuPont to enjoy a leisurely tour of three of DuPont’s more popular attractions – Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls.
Fed by the Little River that cuts through Dupont, High Falls is about a mile hike away from the Hooker Falls access area. The 120 foot high waterfall starts its descent passing under a covered bridge, falling in thin sheets of water to an area below where hikers can venture out onto the rocks, and on warmer days, swim in the surrounding pools, or stand under the waterfall, itself. The hike up to High Falls is a bit steep, but offers several benches, natural overlooks, and a covered picnic area for those looking to take their time to get to the top.
On the return hike from High Falls, a side trail to the right side of the main trail will take hikers to Triple Falls (featured in “The Hunger Games” and “The Last of the Mohicans”) – another series of water falls that span out 120 feet, with three distinct drops before culminating in a pool that directs the water downstream, following the path of the Little River. Triple Falls is also accessible to swimmers at its base (Note: Signs warn against swimming or climbing on the upper two falls because of the danger of being swept over the final drop).
From the Hooker Falls access area to High Falls, and including Triple Falls, hikers can enjoy a relatively easy hike of just over two miles. Because of Dupont’s extensive trail system, those looking for a longer hike can pick up a free map at one of the kiosks in the parking area to include other hot spots, such as Bridal Veil Falls, or to create a loop hike instead of an out-and-back hike of the waterfall tour.
The area is family and pet-friendly, and offers amenities including bathrooms, benches, handicap accessibility in some areas, and easy to navigate trails.
Upon returning to the Hooker Falls access area, I followed signs to the opposite end of the parking area and located the quarter mile trail to Hooker Falls. While the Hooker Falls isn’t as dramatic as Triple Falls or High Falls, cascading down a short 12-foot drop, the short walk and beautiful view were worth the additional half mile roundtrip hike – and is a great option for those that have difficulty walking long distances or on uneven terrain.
Overall, the hike covered a short 2.5 mile distance, but is a great option for a quick walk in the woods, especially for those that have difficulty with longer or more strenuous hikes or for families.
To get to the Hooker Falls access area, from Asheville, follow 1-240 to I-26, taking exit 40. Turn right onto Hwy 280 and stay on 280 for 16 miles until you reach US 64. Turn left onto US 64 and go 3.7 miles to the stoplight. Turn right onto Crab Creek Road and proceed 4.3 miles to DuPont Road (which later becomes Staton Road). Stay on DuPont/Staton Road for 3.1 miles to the Hooker Falls Access Area (on the right hand side of the road).
By Whitney Cooper