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DuPont State Recreational Forest Hike #1 - Tour de Falls
DuPont State Recreational Forest is a 10,300 acre woodland wonderland bursting at its seams with spectacular waterfalls, scenic granite domes, and wild backcountry.
An outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, it offers nearly 90 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails to explore its charming beauty. Rolling hills tucked between high mountains peaks host the headwaters of the Little River and six of western North Carolina’s most visually stunning waterfalls.
Thanks to its beauty and ample accessibility, DuPont is among the state’s premiere outdoor recreation destinations. It forms the northern bookend of lands among a contiguous corridor of more than 23,000 acres of conserved natural lands—many within CMLC easements—along the southern Blue Ridge Escarpment.
DuPont's story representsa landmark achievement for land conservation in western North Carolina. With the help of local environmental groups, including CMLC, 7,600 acres of DuPont State Recreational Forest was purchased by the Conservation Fund and then the state of North Carolina in 1996. Another 500 acres were purchased for addition to the State Recreational Forest in 2000.
Yet DuPont’s most remarkable natural features, its picturesque waterfalls, were nearly lost to development when a private in-holding within the greater DuPont State Recreational Forest was sold for the construction of a housing community in 1999. A grassroots group of citizens along with local environmental groups, including CMLC, led a statewide campaign for the protection of “the heart of DuPont” and the preservation of its beautiful waterfalls.
In 2000, the state of North Carolina invoked imminent domain on the property and it was ultimately purchased with funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, forever making it accessible for the public to enjoy.
Among waterfall enthusiasts, these falls consistently rank as the most visually impressive in all of North Carolina.
Hike to Hooker Falls, Triple Falls & High Falls
Primary Route: Out and back hike from Hooker Falls parking area using Hooker Falls Road, Triple Falls Trail, and High Falls Trail to reach all three waterfalls
Hiking Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 160 feet
Trailhead: Click here to enter your address and receive turn-by-turn directions to access for the trailhead. GPS users may enter N35.2029, W-82.6188 in their units. The Hooker Falls Trailhead may serve as the trailhead to reach all three falls. Park in the large gravel parking lot. The trail to Hooker Falls begins at the back right corner of the parking area; to begin the Triple Falls Trail to reach Triple Falls and High Falls, cross the road on the crosswalk, walk across the bridge, and find the beginning of the trail on the left side of the road on the other side of the guardrail.
To hike to Hooker Falls, follow Hooker Falls Road (trail) from the far, right end of the parking lot. The trail reaches an upper viewing area for Hooker Falls on the left in 0.25 mi. One hundred yards beyond, the trail descends and curves to the left to reach the base of the falls and its large, pool (N35.2023, W-82.6238). Return the way you came to the Hooker Falls parking area for a round trip hike of 0.5 mi.
To hike to Triple Falls and High Falls from the parking area, hike beyond the wooden shelter and cross the paved road on the crosswalk. Walk on the side of the road (facing traffic) to the other side of the bridge; hop the guardrail and descend the stairs to find the beginning of the Triple Falls Trail on the left at 0.1 mi. The Galax Trail, to the right, is permanently closed. At 0.3 mi., a side trail branches off to the left. This trail leads several hundred yards along the side of the Little River to the base of the lower third of Triple Falls. This out-and-back side trip side trip gives you a close-up view of the falls and the extra quarter mile is well worth the effort. Continuing on the Triple Falls Trail from this junction, begin a short but steep climb to reach the upper Triple Falls overlook (N35.1991 W-82.6181) at 0.5 mi. Just beyond the overlook, a picnic shelter is found uphill on the right and on the left, a wooden staircase descends steeply to the base of the middle falls of Triple Falls.
To continue to High Falls, hike just beyond and slightly uphill from the Triple Falls staircase to reach the junction of the Triple Falls Trail and High Falls Trail. To hike to High Falls, turn left and follow the High Falls Trail until reaching an overlook of High Falls (N35.1938, W-82.6149) at 1.1 mi. Here, another staircase leads downhill to access the base of High Falls.
Return the way you came for a round-trip of 2.2 mi.; or consider staying on the High Falls Trail briefly to visit the covered bridge at the top of High Falls via the Covered Bridge Trail (see map). A loop hike is also possible by taking the Triple Falls Trail back to Triple Falls (see map).
Alternative Routes: All three waterfalls may be accessed with a variety of routes and using multiple, separate hikes (for options, review the freely distributed DuPont State Forest trail map). High Falls, in particular, may be completed as its own 1.0 mi. round-trip hike using Buck Forest Road and the High Falls Trail (see map) beginning at the Buck Forest Road trailhead. Click here to enter your address and receive turn-by-turn directions to the Buck Forest Trailhead. GPS users may enter N35.1910, W-82.6236 in their units.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do I need to hike to all three waterfalls during the same hike?
A: No. You may hike to the waterfalls on separate hikes and use of different routes from those described above, and on separate dates. The only requirement of this Challenge is that you hike to all three waterfalls, regardless of your route or number of hikes used to visit them.
Q: I have hiked to all of these waterfalls many times in the past. Do these visits count toward the Hiking Challenge?
A: Only hikes taken during 2011 and beyond will count toward the Hiking Challenge.
Q: Do I need to hike the side trails and staircases to the base of each falls to receive credit toward the Hiking Challenge?
A: No. Hiking the side trails and staircases to the base of each falls is not a required component of the Hiking Challenge, but they are recommended!
Q: I visited each of these waterfalls by bus during DuPont State Recreational Forest's biannual Tour de Falls. Can these visits count toward the Hiking Challenge?
A: No. You may only count a visit to a waterfall toward the Hiking Challenge if you walked to it.
Q: I hiked to these waterfalls on separate hikes. Do I need to report each one of my hikes to CMLC?
A: No. Only report your hike to CMLC for the Hiking Challenge after you have completed hiking to all three falls; you may use the date of your final waterfall visit as the date for the hike, even if waterfalls were hiked on several dates.