Wednesday, February 29, 2012

DuPont State Forest Waterfall Hike
Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, February 25th, 2012

This past weekend was Amy's Mom's 70th birthday celebration which Amy and I were hosting at our house.  We definitely had a house full!

My brother-in-law Hugh and I decided that we needed to escape the Sane craziness for a little while and head up to the mountains.  DuPont State Forest is one of my favorite places to take people who have not seen much of the area.

 It is fairly close to home, the hiking is relatively easy, and the series of waterfalls on the Little River are some of the most impressive around.  So after a nice family breakfast, Hugh and I hit the road up I-26, through Flat Rock, NC, and on to DuPont State Forest. 

We parked at the Hooker Falls / Triple Falls parking area and started out with the quick and easy quarter mile warm up hike to Hooker Falls.  It was a beautiful morning, but the intense sun was located above the waterfall and shining directly into my camera lens.  I quickly realized that this would not be a good day for waterfall photography, but it was still a beautiful day for a hike!

Hooker Falls

I settled for a few quick shots from the side of Hooker Falls, before returning to the parking area to begin our main hike!

We crossed the road, and headed out on the Triple Falls Trail.  After the initial flat section, we began the short but steep climb to the Triple Falls overlook area.  This is the best spot to view all three drops of Triple Falls from one vantage point!

Triple Falls

However, we wanted to go for a closer view.  There used to be a very steep scramble path down to the base of the middle drop of Triple Falls, but recently that path has been replaced with a very well-constructed series of wooden steps making the descent much easier.

The Middle Drop of Triple Falls

After a quick break at the base of the middle drop, we continued on towards High Falls and took the River Bend Trail to the base of this very impressive waterfall!

High Falls

The River Bend Trail ends here, but we climbed the unofficial scramble path from the Base of High Falls back up to the High Falls Trail.  We continued on and crossed the Covered Bridge just upstream from the brink of High Falls.
The DuPont Covered Bridge

From the Covered Bridge, we turned onto Conservation Road and then took the Pitch Pine Trail.  We crossed Joanna Road and then took the "Three Lakes Trail". 

The Three Lakes Trail used to be called the Lake Dense Trail which would take you past Lake Dense and then dead end at Lake Alford.  However, this trail has recently been extended to also include Lake Julia and hence the name change to the "Three Lakes Trail"

Lake Julia

The Three Lakes Trail now continues on past Lake Julia, the Lake Julia Dam, and alongside the Lake Julia Spillway before coming to an end at Conservation Road about 100 yards north of the bridge over the Lake Julia Spillway. 

The new Three Lakes Trailhead at Conservation Road

We continued South on Conservation Road towards the DuPont Barn where we turned onto The Bridal Veil Falls Trail

The DuPont Barn

The Bridal Veil Falls Trail ends at the base of Bridal Veil Falls, but I wanted to give Hugh and experience that you just can't get from the base!

So we started the climb alongside Bridal Veil Falls.  The rock incline was mostly dry making this much easier than it is during times of high water or recent rain.  We probably could have made it all the way to the upper drop, but there were some slick spots towards the end.  Just to be on the safe side, we decided to head into the woods for the final 50 yards or so.

We exited the woods right next to the upper drop of Bridal Veil Falls.  There was really no point to what I was about to do, but I led Hugh underneath and behind the waterfall!

Hugh Crossing under Bridal Veil Falls

There is a scene from the movie "The Last of the Mohicans that was filmed at this exact spot with a group of Indians doing exactly what we were doing.

We made it safely across the river and took a little break to enjoy the view from the other side. 

The Upper Drop of Bridal Veil Falls

Physically, it is possible to create some nice loop hikes using "The going behind Bridal Veil Falls method" of crossing the Little River.  However, this route also requires crossing a small section of private property.  Several years ago, my buddy Andy and I had a run-in with a Rent-a-Cop and almost got arrested while crossing over this section of private property.  Since I was not willing to take Hugh on any adventures that involve jail cells, I scrapped the loop hike idea and just planned an out and back hike.

This meant going back under Bridal Veil Falls and heading back the way we came.  I did throw in a few minor variations for the hike back.  For the return route we stuck to Conservation Road instead of the Three Lakes and Pitch Pine Trails.  We also avoided the River Bend Trail and instead elected for the more distant view of High Falls.

High Falls

One final little side path we took was to the base of the Lower Drop of Triple Falls, where we took our final break of the day before heading back to my vehicle!

Me at the Lower Drop of Triple Falls

For the drive back home, I decided to show Hugh the more scenic route past Caesars Head, SC where we made a quick stop to check out the views!

Hugh at the Caesars Head Overlook

It was a beautiful day for a hike and it was great to give Hugh a little taste of what the Carolina Mountains have to offer!

The bright sun did not make for optimal waterfall photography, but that didn't stop me from trying!  The complete set of photos is posted here:


HemlockMan said...

That was nice of you to take him to see that park. A really good place to introduce folk to our mountains.

Brenda W. said...

Nice to know about Three Lakes Trail. I'll have to look for that the next time I'm up that way.

Adam said...

High falls looks amazing