DuPont State Forest - Wintergreen Falls (11-10-15)
Wintergreen Falls, by DuPont State Forest standards, is all but ignored. Diminutive in size compared with other nearby giants such as Triple and High Falls, the 20-foot-high Wintergreen Falls makes up for what it lacks in vertical impressiveness with solitude and ease of access. If you're like me, DuPont State Forest is a bit of a conundrum. It contains, without argument, some of the most beautiful natural wonders the southern Blue Ridge offers. Unfortunately this results in a crush of visitors, particularly during the warm months. I love the natural beauty, but my equal love of solitude turns me off to DuPont most days. Wintergreen Falls might just be the exception, though I have yet to visit it on a summer weekend. At only around 3-miles round-trip, and with minimal elevation gain to overcome, the hike to Wintergreen Falls involves a pleasant stroll through mixed pine and hardwood forest, typical of this area.
Beginning at the Guinon Farm Access Point, the route to Wintergreen follows the Tarklin Branch Road into the western extremity of the State Forest. Despite the large parking area I've been told this is a relatively quiet part of the forest. It certainly was the day I visited...I was the only one in the lot! I followed the Tarklin Branch Road south into the forest for about a mile at which point I turned onto the Wintergreen Falls Trail which would take me the rest of the way to my destination. Though I found signage to be a bit lacking it was a fairly easy route to follow and quite pleasant to walk. Recent heavy rains helped as well, the waterfall was a bit more impressive flow-wise than most days. This hike offered a pleasant way to dissipate the stresses of a long work day and, if the rumors of this being a low-visitation corner of the forest are indeed true, then it is no doubt a place I'll return to again and again. So come on along with me, won't you, and see what I discovered...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.211584, -82.588034
Hike Length: 3.0 miles Hike Duration: 1:30
Trailhead Temp: 55'F
Min. Elevation: 2,550' Max. Elevation: 2,750'
Total Vertical Gain: 200' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 67'