Great DuPont Forest Waterfall Hike

Western North Carolina has no shortage of waterfalls. Brevard alone touts itself as the home of 250 waterfalls. Some may think that’s an exaggeration, but if you’ve ever been waterfall hunting in Transylvania County, you’ll believe it.

Photograph mad up of images of three different waterfalls. The backing photo is a large three level waterfall with the final cascade turning to the left in the winter, in the upper left is a smaller long waterfall in the spring superimposed. The bottom right has a large single waterfall in the fall with colorful foliage.
DuPont Forest is home to no less than six major waterfalls, the three most popular falls are accessible on a single hike that has great sights in every season.

Although there are tons of waterfalls you can visit, some right next to the road, some a long hike, there’s one place where you can visit three magnificent waterfalls on a single afternoon hike. That spot is DuPont Recreational Forest, and the Three Sisters Hike along the Little Rover.

Gravel hiking trail curving through the woods. trees are on both sides of the trail.
The hiking trails in DuPont forest are really well maintained and easy to follow. This trail to High Falls starts off in the woods but you soon find yourself walking along the river.

The hike is a little over 2 miles one way, so unless you have someone to pick you up, it’s close to a 5 miles out and back. There are a couple detours where you can get up close and personal with the waterfalls, but of course that will add a little more distance to your hike. For the most part it’s an easy hike, there are a couple places where it gets strenuous, but if you follow our guide, you’ll have already visited the two best waterfalls along the trail before you hit the one really rough spot. Still worth the trip, and there are places along the trail where you can sit down and catch your breath.

river flowing over boulders in stream in DuPont Forest with icicles on a boulder
A good bit of the hike to the waterfalls is right beside the Little River.

We’re going to start our hike at the DuPont State Forest Visitor Center Parking lot. It’s very important that you start here, so be sure to set your GPS. It’s a small parking lot, but if you arrive early enough our not on the weekend, you should find a spot. The reason we need to park here, id that’s it’s a much easier hike, and when you get to the bad part, if you feel like you don’t want to hike back up the rather steep hill we’ll hit, you can just turn around after seeing two of the three waterfalls.

The parking lot can be a little confusing your first visit. It’s a one way drive where you’ll turn to the right upon entering the lot and drive up a hill and back down to the far end of the lot. When you come to a T junction, turn to the left to enter the actual parking area. If you can see open parking spaces towards the entrance, I like to park there, but if not grab the fist spot you can. The lot is rather small and will get filled up on even not so busy days.

brown covered bridge with walkway to the right and road going through the middle.
Our first stop today will be the covered bridge above High Falls. We’ll just follow the gravel road down to the bridge so we don’t have to backtrack.

After parking, make your way to the far end of the parking lot (away from the main road). You’ll pass a sign pointing you to the High Falls Loop, but just keep going, we’ll take an alternate route. You’ll also pass a kiosk with a map – as always, it’s a good idea to snap a picture of the map with your phone. At the end of the parking lot walk around the barricade and onto Buck Forest Road. It’s a gravel road that park personnel do drive down, but it’s going to take us to the Little River at the very top of High Falls. You should hear the roar of the falls once you arrive at the covered bridge. Notice how calm the water is just a couple dozen feet from the falls. There’s really no indication of the massive drop just ahead.

Mountain River in fall with multi colored leaves all around.
Looking upriver from the High Falls Covered Bridge in Autumn.
gravel road in DuPont Forest leading to a covered bridge in fall. Leaves are all changing to golds yellows and reds with many leaves on the ground to the right of the road.
Fall is an amazing time to visit DuPont State Forest. Hiking down Buck Forest Road in mid to late October to the covered bridge is great first stop on the waterfall hike. You can see the trail on the left just before the covered bridge that will take you back to the main High Falls Loop Trail.

Once you take in the view, turn around and and go the way you came, you’ll find a trail on the right just past the bridge. This will take you back to the main High Falls Loop Trail. That’s the first detour we’re going to take, another is coming up really soon. The main trail will veer off to the right while another trail leading to the High Falls picnic area heads more or less straight. Even if you don’t need to take a rest, head to the picnic area. You won’t miss anything, and you’ll get a better view of High Falls.

Large Waterfall seen from the base at DuPont State Forest. The waterfall splits in two on the way down and a small ledge with a tree grows in between flows. The river and riverbed in foreground with many rocks visible.
After heavy rains, High Falls turns into a raging torrent.

From the picnic area, a path zig zags back to the main trail and the official overlook, but some of the best vies can be had from this little path. Another reason to take this path, is that it’s not as steep as the main trail. Follow the High Falls Loop a little further and a spur trail will break off to the right. If you want, you can make your way to the banks of the river and eventually the very base of the waterfall. Otherwise, continue along the main trail.

High Falls Waterfall at DuPont Forest in the Fall as seen from the hiking trail - closer to the falls but with multi colored leaves only on the left hand side
Fall makes a great time to visit the waterfalls in DuPont Forest.

The path will be fairly level for a little while, and you can enjoy walking right next to the gently flowing river. Soon though, you’ll find yourself walking up hill again. As you approach the top of this hill, the High Falls trail will loop back to the parking lot, but by this time you should already hear the roar of the next waterfall.

three level waterfall - top and muddle sections flowing straight down lower section flowing off to the left
You may recognize Triple Falls from some of it’s appearances in films including the Hunger Games.
Fall leaves in DuPont State Forest with part of triple falls visible and surrounded by multi colored vegetation and trees
Although Fall is one of the best times to visit DuPont State Forest, the waterfalls can be a little obscured.

Continuing straight, you’re now on the Triple Falls Trail. Before you even see the waterfall, you’ll see a spur trail off to the right that will take you down a series if staircases to the base of the middle section of Triple Falls. Remember though, if you go down, you’ll have to climb back up. And if you want to take this side trip, it’s best to take it on the way out as opposed to the way back. This way, if you need to take a rest, there’s a picnic shelter is just around the corner and although the steepest part of the main hike is coming up, it’s downhill from the top of Triple Falls.

Wooden staircases  zigzagging down in the woods. A waterfall can barely been seen through the branches.
The stairs lead down to the middle of Triple Falls, but remember if you go down you have to climb back up.. There are a number of landing where you can catch your breath.
Upper two sections of triple waterfall in DuPont Forest seen in fall. The first cascade can be seen at the top but not the first pool.the second cascade flows down half a rock fave into a pool leaves are all turning gold and red
All of DuPont Forest is spectacular as Autumn brings a cascade of color to Triple Falls.

As soon as you pass the overlook for Triple Falls along the main path, you’ll hit the steepest part of the trail and yes it’s really steep and there aren’t any switch backs. Just watch your step and you should be OK. Once down, the trail is more or less level running next to the Little River until you cross a footbridge and find yourself at the Hooker Falls parking lot. From here you’re less than a third of a mile from Hooker Falls, the final waterfall on our hike. Pick up the next trail behind the restrooms.

red metal bridge crossing a river at DuPont Forest during winter another bridge suitable for cars can be seen in the distance.
Foot Bridge over the Little River near the Hooker Falls Parking Lot and along the trail to Triple Falls. Beware that a large hill awaits hikers in this direction.

You won’t be beside the river for this part of the hike, but it’s also the shortest leg. The trail is mostly level, but gets a little steep as you approach the falls.

long but short waterfall seen from near the base in DuPont State Forest - green trees are above and behind the fall rock faces are on either side
Hooker Falls at DuPont State Forest is a short walk from its parking lot, or you can start hike from the High Falls Parking Lot and see three waterfalls in just over 2 miles.

Although it’s not as big as the other two waterfalls we’ve been to today, it’s easily the most popular. This is mostly due to it being only a short hike from a parking area, but it also has a gentle pool that lots of people play in during the warmer months. Depending on when you visit, you’ll probably find lots of families with small children playing in the water.

side view of portion of water fall and rocky shoreline
The river bank near the waterfall is rocky, but as you move further back, it becomes sandy.

When you’re ready, just turn around and go back the way you came. The only really bad part is the climb right at triple falls. But there are spots where you can take a rest along the way, and once you get to the top, you’re right at a picnic shelter where you can take a longer rest. From there just follow the path beside the river. You’ll see a sign for the High Falls Loop pointing to a trail to the right, but don’t be fooled. The back half of the trail just goes through the woods and doesn’t offer any additional sights. You’ll also start off walking up hill where if you stick to the river side, you’ll soon be going downhill.

gravel hiking trail through the woods
The trail to Hooker Falls is short but fairy steep at the end.

Once you get to the High Falls Overlook, you can either continue on the path or take the detour to the picnic area to your right. It’s a slight uphill grade if you stick to the main trail, but the path to the picnic shelter has a switch back, so it’s not so steep. Whichever way you go, just follow the trail and the signs back to the visitor center. If you miss the turn off, it’s not a big deal. The trail you’re on will dead end on a gravel road, and all you have to do is hang a right to get back to the parking lot.

And now you can say you’ve been to the three most popular Waterfalls in DuPont State Recreational Forest. Believe it or not, there are still three more waterfalls here you can visit, but that can wait for another day.