Pinnacle Mountain Road to Wintergreen Falls Hike Route Map

DuPont State Forest - Pinnacle Mountain Road to Wintergreen Falls

If DuPont State Forest has a “back forty”  it’s most definitely the portion accessed by Pinnacle Mountain Road. Winding, steep, and frequently quite rough, this lightly-used route passes along the southeastern boundary of the Forest. Those without extra clearance under their vehicles are wise to avoid it, which does a great job of scaring away the masses which frequent other nearby footpaths. Those that do manage it, however, will find a pair of remote trailheads that I can almost guarantee will be free of people. There are no massive waterfalls or rocky summits to be easily reached from these trails (which is another reason why they likely remain ignored)…just thickly forested hillsides and tiny streams. It’s quiet though…wonderfully quiet, especially by DuPont standards. The hordes of tourists are far away here, and the footpaths are of a noticeably wilder nature. It’s DuPont State Forest as few get to experience.

This hike begins from the more remote of the two trailheads along Pinnacle Mountain Road. Approximately 3.5-miles after leaving the pavement at Green River Gap there is a large pull-off at a forest two-track guarded by boulders and a solitary yellow post marked “Joanna”. This is the eastern end of Joanna Road, where the days trek will start. Odds are you won’t have any company as you begin walking west along the old road. Starting out in a stand of beautiful pines, the track quickly begins its descent into the drainage of Briery Fork Creek. There’s not much of note to point out along this stretch, it’s just a continuous downhill walk through a fairly uniform forest of mixed pines and hardwoods. At just under a mile the first trail junction is reached and then, 2/3-mile later, another…both of which are with the Grassy Meadow Trail which loops off of Joanna Road and will be visited on the return hike. A quarter-mile below the lower junction a much larger trail intersection is reached, where the Briery Fork Trail comes in from the south and the Grassy Creek Trail heads north. Turn now onto the Grassy Creek Trail.

The route continues to descend, moderately at first and then more steeply as the trail makes its final winding pitch down to its namesake stream. Again, there’s not much to say about this section of trail. It’s pretty much business as usual as far as your surroundings have gone thus-far on this hike. Grassy Creek is a bit of a wild card in regards to the likelihood of getting wet. At average to low water levels large stepping-stones should get you across dry. After a hard rain or during wet periods, however, it’s most definitely a wade. Prepare for either eventuality just to be safe. Once across you’ll quickly start encountering more and more people as you turn right briefly onto the Sandy Trail and then right again onto the Wintergreen Falls Trail. Though Wintergreen doesn’t see near the foot traffic of the other major cascades at DuPont, it’s certainly not unknown either. Unless it’s a wintery or wet day, plan on having to share them with at least a few other people. A quarter-mile from the crossing of Grassy Creek you’ll make a quick scramble up some rocks and boulders to the pool at the base of the falls. At barely 20-feet in height Wintergreen Falls is no monster, but it’s ruggedly beautiful nonetheless. Don’t despair about whatever crowds you may find either, you simply have to retrace your steps back to the other side of Grassy Creek to find peace and solitude once again.

The way back retraces your route in save for a detour onto the Grassy Meadow Trail, which adds perhaps a quarter-mile to the return journey and little-to-no difficulty. It’s another rather mundane trail, except for where it passes the curious forest opening for which it’s named, passing through woodlands of equal variety to what has been seen already. Before you know it you’ll be back on Joanna Road, heading east, for the 300-foot climb back to the trailhead. Though not the most visually spectacular hike at DuPont, if for any other reason than the solitude (save for at the falls) I’d encourage you to give it a try. Wintergreen Falls themselves are worth the effort otherwise, and you’ll be visiting them from a direction very few try. Regardless, I personally found it very enjoyable…and so it’s now my pleasure to an afternoon walk, from Pinnacle Mountain Road to Wintergreen Falls in DuPont State Forest. As always, I hope you ENJOY!!

***On a personal aside, this hike holds a special place in my heart for another reason. Upon returning home I was contacted for the first time by a very special individual who would end up changing my life…in amazing ways I could not have expected. You know who you are if you’re reading this…far more than this hike you made March 15, 2020 a memorable one for me!***

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.184810, -82.556414

Route Type:  Out-and-back       Difficulty:  HARD (Petzoldt Rating:  7.60 )

Hike Length:  6.2 miles                Hike Duration:  2:45

Trailhead Temp:  55'F                 Trail Traffic:  1-5 people

Min. Elevation:  2,500'                  Max. Elevation:  3,150'

Total Vertical Gain:  700'             Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  113'

Trails Used (blaze color):  Grassy Creek (unblazed), Grassy Meadow (unblazed), Joanna Road (unblazed), Sandy (unblazed), Wintergreen Falls (unblazed)


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