Dupont Forest Moderate Hiking by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Just an hour out of Greenville, SC, is the Dupont State Recreational Forest of North Carolina, a wonderful place to spend time relaxing in nature and getting some moderate exercise. If you are well prepared you could spend from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. enjoying the beautiful mountain atmosphere and re-creating your mind and body. The 82 miles of trails are mostly multi-use for hikers, cylers, and some are for equestrians. No motor vehicles are allowed on trails, but there is ample parking in several places.

We chose to do the waterfalls hikes and had several tempting choices. The easy walk to Hooker Falls is only a quarter mile and is a popular swimming hole below the cascades (but no life guard, so take care.) This mountain water is always delightfully chilly.

We took the High Falls trail through the forest with our lunch to the covered picnic shelter, where those of us who did not want to venture down the fairly steep trail could see this tallest of the Little River falls from the tables. The High Falls cascade down 120 feet over solid granite and are spectacular in many viewpoints. Several of us made the trek and found many lovely picture points with the waterfalls coming together and then separating into many varied flows. Triple Falls has three distinct components which also total about 120 feet of vertical drop.  Scenes from several movies were filmed here including Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans.

The waterfalls are not the only thing that makes the day there wonderful. The forest vegetation is rich and varied, and when we wanted to identify something we let Google tell us, so it was a learning experience also. There are five lakes in Dupont State Recreational Forest: Lake Dense, Lake Imaging, Lake Alford, Fawn Lake, and the largest (99 acres) Lake Julia.  For equestrian pathways park your vehicle at Lake Imaging or Guion Farm, the latter of which has flatter trails.  Bike trailheads are at these two places and also at Corn Mill Shoals. If you have a NC fishing license you may catch panfish or largemouth bass in the lakes or trout in Little River. Hunting is allowed on the Gamelands with a 3-day permit issued by NC Wildlife Resource Commission Gamelands program, but take caution and scout the area to be sure no other tourists are in the area of danger.

Rest rooms are available at the Visitor Center, where you will receive a map. Everyone is responsible to bring his or her own trash out to keep this beautiful park clean. No camping is allowed. Dupont Forest is located between Hendersonville and Brevard, NC. Navigate to 1400 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718. You can enjoy your time there 365 days a year for free. For information call 828 877 6527.