Some of nature’s most alluring features double as ideal recreation spots
In any season, waterfalls are beautiful. Seeing these magnificent natural features up close is not a chance to be missed. North Carolina’s Dupont Falls is the ideal place for hiking, picnicking, taking surreal photographs or simply wading in the pools.
North Carolina is home to an estimated 300 waterfalls and the region is known for its natural beauty. With 86 miles of trails and more than 10,000 acres, Dupont State Recreational Forest boasts some stunning scenery. Not even Hollywood could escape the lure of these natural attractions, with the Dupont Forest waterfalls serving as filming locations for several scenes in 1992’s “The Last of the Mohicans” and 2012’s “The Hunger Games.”
Groups seeking to savor the falls can enjoy an easy-access hiking trail along the river, which is popular for all ages and fitness levels. This low-intensity, three-mile walk runs through Hooker Falls, Triple Falls and High Falls, which are all in close proximity. Groups can choose to shorten their journey by visiting just one or two of the falls, or they can extend their trip with a visit to the peaceful Wintergreen Falls. Hooker Falls and High Falls both have accessible parking areas, so visitors can start the trail from either location. Hooker Falls also has a paved trail for disability access. Starting at Hooker Falls allows visitors to get the uphill section of the hike out of the way first, making for an easy return journey downhill.
The falls will get increasingly impressive as you follow this route, concluding with the spectacular High Falls. In September, the community hosts the annual Dupont Forest Festival, which has included such activities as kayak tours, fly fishing, equestrian activities and science demonstrations for kids and adults alike.
Less than a quarter mile away from parking, restrooms and changing rooms, Hooker Falls is an ideal spot for some fun and relaxation. Following the trail from the parking area will lead to an observation space above the falls, where groups can watch the 12-foot waterfall drop into the deep pool of Cascade Lake. There is a second observation deck along a paved trail which is accessible to wheelchairs and scooters. In this favorite summer swimming spot, visitors can dip behind the waterfall and even swim through it. There are plenty of large rocks to sit on and enjoy the view, and Hooker Falls is a popular picnic spot. For those looking for an easy walk, the hike to Hooker Falls is only three-fifths of a mile round trip. Those hungry for more can continue for another half mile to reach the majestic Triple Falls.
Located half a mile away from Hooker Falls and two miles from High Falls, this attraction offers visitors the opportunity to stand in the middle of a waterfall. The 120foot Triple Falls is made up of three wide cascades, each dropping down to the next. All three falls can be seen from the main trail, and an overlook offers a lovely view of the top two tiers. A staircase leads down to a flat rock plateau area on the bottom tier, where visitors can stand in the middle of the falls and feel the currents rush around their feet. Movie buffs might recognize the base of these falls as the spot where Peeta is injured during “The Hunger Games” film. This thundering waterfall acts as a prelude to the largest and perhaps most impressive waterfall on the trail, High Falls.
Visitors looking for a cinematic view will not be disappointed. A moderate-intensity two-mile hike from Triple Falls brings visitors to the spectacle of High Falls. The single drop, vertigo-inducing waterfall certainly lives up to its name at 150 feet tall. The spectacular view alone is worth the trip, and when the water is low, visitors can climb across the rocks and stand close to the enormous falls. The attraction is only half a mile away from the High Falls parking area and visitor center, so visitors who need an easier access point to the waterfall can still be awed by its beauty.
Away from the rush of High Falls, visitors will find the quaint 20-foot Wintergreen Falls. From the parking area at Guion Farm, visitors can follow a shaded trail which takes them slowly down the falls. Named for the evergreen ground cover which surrounds it, the falls dip down into Glassy Creek. Visitors can perch on the rocks, dip their toes in the water and enjoy a peaceful picnic. romanticasheville.com/dupont.htm