If I drive 170 miles one way to see a waterfall, it’s better be one kick-ass waterfall. This one is.
And it’s in the coolest-named county in the Carolinas: Transylvania.
DuPont State Forest is a popular recreation area about 40 miles south of Asheville — hunters, paddlers, hikers, anglers, mountain bikers and just about anybody else with an adventurous urge can find something to do within the forest’s 10,000 acres and 90 miles of trails.
And then there’s the main attraction: Triple Falls Trail, which passes the waterfall of the same name, then passes Upper Falls just upriver. Both are enormous, thundering cascades, especially after a couple late winter-storm systems have blown through.
So about Sunday’s hike: I started out from the Hooker Falls Access, which is just across the road from the Triple Falls Trail. This is the best starting point because you get all your climbing in at the beginning. It’s not killer-diller steep, but 400 feet of ascent in less than a mile is still a fair workout.
Look for the sign here, wander up the road, cross the bridge, turn left, and follow the signs.
Well, actually, just follow the roar.
There’s just enough room along the edge of the creekbed to work your way up to the base of Triple Falls. Note the hiker over at the right for scale. And this only about a third of it.
I scrambled up a nearly perpendicular use trail back to the main Triple Falls Trail. This is what I saw when I turned around at the top:
Like I said. Huge.
Then you wander up the trail a ways till Upper Falls shows up. This isn’t much of a picture because it was taken in full sunlight at lunchtime, but take my word for it: worth the climb.
I turned left at the Covered Bridge Trail, and found — hold onto your seats, now — a covered bridge.
Note the river below the bridge is about 50 yards from the brink of Upper Falls. If you slip into that current and can’t save yourself, you’re going over the falls. The only good to come of that will be the nice things they’ll say about you at the memorial service.
Around this point it’s decision time: I could’ve just gone back the way I came, but I felt like a doing a loop, so I took the Buck Forest Trail to Lake Imaging Trail, crossed Staton Road and returned via Holly Trail to Hooker Falls Access.
Took a couple quick detours on the Grassy Creek Falls Trail (which had a “trail closed” sign but I didn’t see anything worthy of closure) and the Hilltop Loop Trail for a 6-miler with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
Bear in mind if you try this one: start early — it’s very popular; the parking lot’s like a shopping mall come mid-afternoon.
Also, if you go during hunting season, wear bright reflective clothing so nobody mistakes you for a large cloven-hoofed beast.
This one’s highly recommended, though I’d suggest doing it on a week day to have the place to yourself.
Links for this hike:
- EveryTrail GPS tracks
- Friends of DuPont Forest site
- Trail map
- Driving directions
- DuPont State Forest waterfalls at NCWaterfalls.com
View 3-13-11 DuPont State Forest in a larger map