Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Waterfall on Little Willow Creek and DuPont State Forest

Henderson / Transylvania County, NC
Labor Day Monday, September 6th, 2010

Photos are posted here:

Last week I learned of a new waterfall that I wanted to check out. There is not a whole lot of information out there on this waterfall. It is not mentioned in Kevin Adam’s North Carolina Waterfalls Book or Waterfall Rich’s website.

After a little web research, I was able to pinpoint the exact location of the waterfall. It is located on Little Willow Creek in Henderson County, NC about halfway between Hendersonville and Brevard, NC. I found it referenced as Seven Falls and Big Falls. Since neither of those names make any sense to me, I am just going to refer to it as Waterfall on Little Willow Creek.

Waterfall on Little Willow Creek

The problem is that this waterfall is on private property. The property was destined to become a luxury housing development and golf course community. The plans call for the 7th hole green to be placed right in front of the base of this waterfall with luxury homes built on the hillside above the waterfall.  That is probably where the Seven Falls name came from, since the 7th hole is planned to be right in front of the waterfall!
The property owner/developer has recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, so who knows what will become of the property and this waterfall in the future. All I knew is that I wanted to check it out ASAP. I knew it would require a bit of trespassing, but I could always claim I was checking out some potential investment/retirement property.

I had no problem finding the waterfall. Unfortunately, the short dirt road to the waterfall was gated with several obvious no trespassing signs. There is a difference between trespassing and blatant trespassing. Parking next to and climbing over a gate posted with no trespassing signs is my definition of blatant trespassing. I decided to find a better way.

A few hundred yards back up the main road is another gated dirt road leading into the property. This gate was open and not posted in any way. While a slightly longer walk, I was able to get to the base of the waterfall without coming across any no trespassing signs. Sure, I was still technically trespassing, but I wasn’t about to miss out on this waterfall due to a little technicality like private property!

This one is a real beauty, but knowing you are someplace where you should not be; sure does gets the adrenaline flowing. I could have spent a couple of hours composing a wide variety of shots from different angles. However, I limited my visit to only about 10 minutes.

Waterfall on Little Willow Creek

This waterfall is definitely worth a visit, but there is currently no way around the fact that you have to enter private property in order to see it.

I had the whole day in front of me and some of my favorite hiking destinations were only about 15 minutes away. I elected to head to DuPont State Forest in Transylvania County, NC.

DuPont State Forest is known for a series of spectacular waterfalls. I figured with it being a beautiful Holiday weekend the waterfall areas would be swarming with people.

Fortunately, with about 100 miles of trails, there is a lot more to DuPont than just the waterfalls. I decided to do my hiking in the much more peaceful and secluded North East corner of the forest.

While I have visited DuPont State Forest dozens of times, there are still trails I have yet to hike! Today’s plan was to check a few of those out and do a loop hike with a couple of side spurs.

You can view a map of the Forest here if you feel like following along.

I parked at the Guion Farm Parking area on Sky Valley Road and began by hiking further up Sky Valley Road. My map shows two short side trails, the Grassy Dam Trail (#29) and the Flat Rock Trail (#23). I never did find the Grassy Dam Trail, but decided to check out the Flat Rock Trail.

Some Summer Wildflowers

A half mile easy hike takes you to a nice spot where two creeks (Jim Creek and Grassy Creek) merge into one. I am not sure why they call it the Flat Rock Trail as all the rocks I saw were round! I thought briefly about heading downstream to try to find the other end of the Grassy Dam Trail, but decided I wasn’t in the mood for any creek walking or bushwhacking, so I returned back to the road.

I continued hiking up the road to another trail I had never hiked before, the Plantation Trail (#61). I have no idea why this is called the Plantation Trail. I did not see any plantations or anything that would lead me to believe there ever was a plantation here.

What I found was a dense pine forest. A forest trail covered with layers of soft pine needles just might be my favorite hiking surface! This trail makes a Lollipop loop of about 2 miles round trip. If you are looking for some awesome scenery, skip this one. If you are looking for a peaceful and secluded walk through the forest, this is a great spot!

Just across the road from the Plantation Trail is the Frank Street Trail (#25). Basically I thought this would just be a little connector to get me to the Switchback (#78) and Stone Mountain (#77) trails. I was pleasantly surprised to find a scenic little pond at the end of Frank Street.

Frank Street Pond

Actually, Frank Street continues on, but it leaves the forest and enters private property. Since I already did more than my share of trespassing on the day, I headed back into DuPont Forest and took the Switchback Trail to the Stone Mountain Trail.

At 3,620 feet, Stone Mountain is the highest point in DuPont State Forest. It was time for a little workout! While only about a mile to the top, it is uphill all the way providing about 25 minutes of good cardio! The views from the summit are nice, but not spectacular. What was spectacular was the cool breeze and clear sky! I decided this would be the spot to take a nice snack break.

View from Stone Mountain

I hiked back down the Stone Mountain Trail and turned on the Rocky Ridge Trail (#69). I finished my loop utilizing several other trails including the Rifle Trail (#66), Hickory Mountain Road (#33), White Pine Loop (#88), and finally a short section of Buck Forest Road (#8).

Nothing about this hike was really exceptional, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless! I hiked about 10 miles and did not encounter a single other hiker. The only people I ran into were (2) Mountain Bikers, (4) people on horse back, and (1) Forest Ranger.

My full set of photos is posted here:


Kelvin Taylor said...

I know what you mean about trespassing. It was worth it! Nice falls.

HemlockMan said...

I'll enjoy DuPont more when the state park infrastructure is all in place. I'd really like to see a good campground there. I hate the one at Cascade Lake. Also it'll be a much better park when they've closed in the donut hole and opened up that part of the property.

Jack said...

Thanks KT! It was definitely worth a little trespassing!

Bob, There are some rumors about turning the piece of private property in the center over to the state and building a campground there. Who knows if that will ever actually happen!