With 83 miles of trails, DuPont State Recreational Forest between Hendersonville and Brevard, North Carolina, offers endless opportunities for scenery, yet planning an excursion can be daunting for a new visitor.
Why not narrow it down to the falls in the big feature films, “The Hunger Games”and “Last of the Mohicans”? Plus, it’s a good excuse to re-watch one of these great movies before or after your trip!
This popular day trip for Upstate families is a three-waterfall hike that I have done with children as young as 3. Someone needed to be carried part of the way – lucky I was in good shape. However, if you are unable to make all three hikes, you could easily cut this trip to two waterfalls, which are accessible by a short walk and a car ride.
For the complete adventure, start at the parking lot for Hooker Falls. This trailhead also forks to the trail for Triple Falls and High Falls. Bridal Veil is another movie waterfall along the river, but because this feature adds another three miles to the hike, my family hasn’t ventured that far yet.
From the Hooker Falls parking lot, you will see the trail fork almost immediately. Signage clearly distinguishes between the Hooker Falls Trail and Triple Falls Trail. Do not cross the bridge now, but you will turn around and come back here.
My 3-year-old had no trouble managing the short, flat walk to Hooker Falls. In “Last of the Mohicans,” look for the canoe scene. At 12-feet, the pretty cascade is not tall, but an attractive, wide span of foamy water splashes into a pool where my older kids (ages 5 and 7) waded and climbed on the rocks.
To continue to Triple Falls, backtrack up the Hooker Falls Trail. You’ll see the sign for Triple Falls Trail and cross the bridge. This trail takes you to both Triple Falls and continues to High Falls for two distinctive viewing experiences. Although the DuPont website states the distance to Triple Falls is only seven minutes, it seemed longer – maybe because my group likes to pause and search for signs of wood fairies.
Triple Falls was featured in both films, and the three winding cascades are phenomenal. A word of caution: our last trip was during a drought, and there were many visitors walking up the exposed rock along the water. We did the same, and all were safe. However, we had plenty of adults to supervise and weren’t outnumbered by lots of kids. Also, note the amount of exposed rock varies with rainfall, and it may not be the same on every trip.
If your child is likely to wander away or get in the water, watch from a distance. Although waterfalls are beautiful, they can also be dangerous. Exercise caution and common sense.
The last stop of this hike is High Falls. The DuPont website claims this is only another half mile. It felt longer to me, but I was also carrying a kid part of the way. We stopped at an observation area where the falls were visible through a valley. Unlike Triple Falls, nobody was playing at this 120-foot drop.
To shorten this trip, walk to Hooker Falls, return to the Hooker Falls parking lot and drive to the High Falls observation area.
To reach DuPont State Recreational Forest, drive to Cedar Mountain, N.C. The address for popular High Falls Access Area is 1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, N.C. 28718. To reach the Hooker Falls Access Area where this hike begins, Google Maps recognizes Hooker Falls.
More information is online at dupontforest.com.