DuPont Forest Field Report 2
Today was another trip to DuPont State Forest near Hendersonville, but for the first time, DuPont was the main stop of the day. I hoped to make it to three of the waterfalls and maybe get a couple shots of one of the lakes. That was the hope at any rate.
Hooker Falls Access
The first stop was at Hooker Falls. I got to the parking lot around 10:00 and it was already really busy. The main lot was full, so I had to park in the overflow area. As I parked, a half dozen other cars followed suit.
The trailhead is at the back of the parking lot on the opposite side from the river. It’s not a long trail, maybe a third of a mile. That’s probably why it’s so popular. Lots of families and people with kids were out today. More than I’ve seen on the other trails in the forest.
The trail starts off fairly level but turns fairly steep as you approach the falls. It’s in really good shape, but well maintained trails are what I’ve come to expect from DuPont.
The falls themselves are on the smaller side…maybe 10 fee high. The shoreline starts out fairly sandy but turns rocky as you approach the falls. At the base, the water current seems to be fairly gentile, and I saw lots of people wading and even walking out to a bolder in the middle of the river.
I spent about an hour on the trail and at the falls. Lots of people cam through while I was there. When I got back to the parking lot, even the overflow lot was almost full with just a couple of spaces left.
High Falls Access and Bridal Veil Falls
I decided to cheat and drive to the High Falls parking lot instead of taking the trails, but I figured that I’ll spend enough time on the trails once I get there. Again, the lot was almost full with just a couple spaces open at the end of the lot. I’ve never been on a weekend, but given today was a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday might be impossible to get a spot.
I gathered my stuff and made my way down Buck Forest Road to the Covered Bridge. The bridge is about a half mile from the parking lot and sits at the very top of High Falls. But today’s destination was still about a mile and a half away. Just past the bridge, I turned right down Conservation Road.
This first part of the journey isn’t on a trail but a gravel road. It’s a wide and hilly road popular with bicyclists. Keep your eyes and ears open open because some can ride really fast down the road. Also expect to see some forest service vehicles on the road as well.
From the map I thought I might get a look at one of the lakes, but no such luck. The Three Lake Trail turns off of Conservation Rd looping back a little ways down. But that would be a trail for another day. The closest I got to one of the lakes was the bridge over the Lake Julia Spillway.
After about a mile is the turnoff onto Bridal Veil Road. The path is much more narrow than the road but starts out wider than most trails. It does get more narrow as you travel past the Barn to the left and then the overlook of the falls. From that point it’s you’re typical hiking trail down to the base of the falls. The last part of the trip is a little bit steep, but still not too bad.
The base of the falls is rocky with lots of boulders you can hop onto. To the left is a small path where you can carefully walk out onto the face of the falls. And although I wouldn’t recommend it, lots of people walked up the face to the top.
I decided to take a little time to relax around the falls, and I’m glad I did. There were only a few people around, but as they filtered out, I got about 20 minutes at the fall all by myself.
After leaving the falls and making my way back to the covered bridge, I was hot and out of water. So I decided that Grassy Creek Falls would have to wait for another day.
For a weekday, it was much more crowded than I thought. As I was leaving, I saw that the Hooker Falls parking lot looked like it was completely full. I can’t imagine how busy they get on the weekend. If you’re wanting to make the Three Sisters Waterfall hike, best to arrive early no matter what day you’re coming.
Hooker falls although smaller than the other waterfalls in the forest is in a nice area. It’s in what I would call a clearing along the river. It’s a much more intimate setting than the wide open spaces around the larger falls.
Bridal Veil doesn’t seem to be visited as much – probably because it’s a little off the beaten path and its face isn’t as steep as other falls. The water flows down its rock face rather than falling.