DuPont State Forest -- Four Waterfall Loop (12-17-17)
DuPont State Forest is a 10,500-acre piece of protected land in the southwest mountains of North Carolina which is home to numerous waterfalls, rocky summits, and wild streams. Located astride the Transylvania/Henderson County line, the Forest contains over 80-miles of hiking paths much of which is also designated as multi-use. Since its formation in 1997, DuPont State Forest has quickly become one of the premier destinations for area locals and tourists alike. The amazing natural beauty is partially responsible for this, but the relatively tame landscape which is crossed by numerous old roads-turned-trails makes for exceedingly easy access. Add to all this its location part way between the Greenville/Spantanburg and Asheville metro areas and you have a perfect storm of ingredients for overcrowding. Yearly visitation at DuPont is now pushing half a million and, as such, DuPont is a place I love and hate in almost equal amounts.
To me, the best days to visit DuPont are on the days which are most likely to keep people indoors...rainy days, cold days, snowy days...all of which thin out the crowds enough for me to enjoy the scenery in a more intimate way. Such it was on this day...a cool damp afternoon on which I would undertake a hike that has been a long time coming in my years visiting DuPont. On this hike I would be looking to string together four of DuPonts major waterfalls on one seven-ish mile loop. I would begin and end at the Hooker Falls Access, one of the busiest such access points in the forest. Starting with a quick out-and-back to 10-foot Hooker Falls I would then loop my way north and east via a combination of very popular and less popular trails. After Hooker Falls the loop doesn't have much in the way of eye candy for the the first half of the walk. The back side of the loop is another story entirely. The next cascade I would pass would be Grassy Creek Falls. It's not a monster but I still find a unique beauty in its long sliding form. After that I'd make my way over to the two titans of DuPont, High Falls and Triple Falls. Both of these cascades reach well over 100-feet in height and despite the nomenclature of the stream which forms them, the Little River, these two waterfalls are stunningly powerful. It's easy to understand why the Forest draws the attention it does with these two wonders at its heart.
All in all there wasn't much new to discover for me on this hike. I had visited all four of these waterfalls many times in the past. What was new was bringing them all together in one hiking experience and that was quite special. Though there were still many more people on the trails than what I might typically prefer, by DuPont standards it was a fairly quiet day out. So, without further adieu I present to you what can only be described as the 'Grand Waterfall Tour of DuPont'...as always, ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.202099, -82.620130
Route Type: Loop Difficulty: HARD
Mileage Hiked: 7.8 miles Hike Duration: 3:45
Trailhead Temp: 35'F Trail Traffic: 50-100 people
Min. Elevation: 2,250' Max. Elevation: 2,600'
Total Vertical Gain: 650' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 83'
Trails Used (blaze color): Buck Forest Road (unblazed), Covered Bridge (unblazed), Grassy Creek Falls (unblazed), High Falls (unblazed), Hilltop Loop (unblazed), Holly Road (unblazed), Hooker Falls (unblazed), Lake Imaging Road (unblazed), River Bend (unblazed), Triple Falls (unblazed)