DuPont State Forest NC

DuPont State Forest’s Beginnings as an Industrial Site

Driving through one of North Carolina’s youngest state forests, it’s hard to believe that it was once an industrial site. But that’s just what you’ll find when you visit DuPont State Recreational Forest in Ceder Mountain between Brevard and Flat Rock.

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.

In the 1950’s the DuPont Corporation was looking for a suitable site for their silicone chip production. They needed a place with plenty of clean air and water without the pollution that comes from heavy industrial development. They found it in Western North Carolina. The site they choose was a largely forested area with lakes and waterfalls fed by the Little River. Jumping at the opportunity to have the area to themselves, they bought up 10,000 acres. Later they would also produce x-ray film here.

Granite rock face that's not too steep to walk up - some water flowing down the side
Some people walk up the rock face beside where the water flows of Bridal Veil Falls at DuPont State Forest. If you want to get away from the crowds, Bridal Veil Falls is a great choice as it’s not along the more popular three waterfall trail.

DuPont Employee Recreation are as Forerunner of Today’s Forest

While DuPont was primarily focused on their production goals, they also managed to plant the seeds of the future state forest. The company established a natural area for employees and guests. Called the DuPont Employees Recreational Area, it gave families a place to camp, hunt, fish, picnic, or hike. All things you can do today in the state recreational forest that bears their name.

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.

By 1995, DuPont’s corporate priorities had shifted, and they announced that they would be leaving the area and selling the plant to Sterling Diagnostics. The land surrounding the plant was to be sold off separately. Private developers were ready to pounce on this prime real estate. With the abundant lakes and waterfalls, the DuPont property would be worth a fortune to whomever was able to get their hands on it.

A long but short waterfall above a taller waterfall that's about half its length at DuPont State Forest. The second more narrow waterfall is flowing into a pool and a solid granite rock face is to its right.
Upper and middle sections of Triple Falls at DuPont State Forest. If you’re feeling adventitious climb down the stairs not far from the picnic area to get a closer look at the waterfall. Just don’t forget you’ll have to climb back up.

Saving DuPont State Forest from Development

A coalition soon grew up between former DuPont employees, local activists, outdoors people, and environmental groups. They arranged for 7,600 acres to be sold to the Conservation Fund for a mere $2.2 million. A fraction of what it would be worth on the open market. The Fund then transferred the land to the State of North Carolina, and DuPont State Recreational Forest was born. Over the next 20 years, most of the remaining DuPont land, including the forest’s 6 waterfalls, has been acquired by the state and opened to the public.

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.
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.

North Carolina chose to manage the site as a recreational forest. That is a forest managed primarily for natural resource preservation, scenic enjoyment, and outdoor recreation. It’s North Carolina’s first and only recreational forest.

Visiting DuPont State Forest

picnic shelter with tables and a metal roof at DuPont Forest - part of Triple Falls is clearly visible past the shelter.
Both Triple Falls and High Falls at DuPont Forest have picnic shelters overlooking the falls. If the shelters haven’t been reserved, they make a great place to stop and have a little rest along your kike – especially if you climbed down to the middle of Triple Falls.

Today DuPont State Forest covers over 10,000 acres and has been the location for hit movies like The Hunger Games and Last of the Mahicans. Over 80 miles of multi-use trails run throughout the forest.

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 way to start your visit to DuPont Forest.

Most of the trails are open for people on foot, horse, or mountain bikes, so don’t be surprised if you round a corner to come face to face with someone on a horse. Areas are set aside for swimming and wading, as well as kayaking. Picnic shelters are available along the trails and can be booked in advance.

white cluster of flowers with hints of yellow and pink
All four seasons bring wonder to DuPont Forest – in spring and summer expect to see mountain laurel blooming along the trails.

The Trail System at DuPont State Forest

hiking trail running beside a river in winter in DuPont State Forest
DuPont Forest’s trails are all well maintained and wider than you’ll find at other forests. But be aware that you might be sharing your hike with people on horseback.

The trails at DuPont Forest are well laid out and well maintained. You won’t have any problem finding your way. Some can be really steep especially the one’s leading to the top of the waterfalls, but the difficulty of all trails is listed on forest maps.

Waterfalls at DuPont State Forest

three level waterfall - top and muddle sections flowing straight down lower section flowing off to the left
Folks visit DuPont State Forest for lots of reasons, but it’s safe to say that most are here for the waterfalls. Cool weather in late winter is a great time to visit Triple Falls at DuPont Forest when the falls aren’t hidden by vegetation.

DuPont’s six waterfalls are all accessible from the trail system. Some like Triple Falls or Hooker Falls are within a short walk of one of the parking areas. Others you might have to hike of couple miles to reach.

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.
Waterfall flowing over a large and tall granite rock face with large flat boulders in river and foreground
Bridal Veil Falls is a little of the beaten path at DuPont Forest, but it’s well worth a visit.

Lakes at DuPont State Forest

Three lakes are accessible through the trail system. Lake Dense and Lake Alford are both smaller lakes being 5 acres and half acre. Lake Julia at 99 acres is the largest lake in the forest. Picnic shelters and fishing docks are along the lakes and afford great views of Joanna Mountain.

Fishing and Hunting at DuPont State Forest

river flowing over boulders in stream in DuPont Forest with icicles on a boulder
Little River flowing through DuPont State Forest

Hunting and fishing are allowed at DuPont Recreational Forest in accordance with state laws. Most of the streams are classified as wild trout waters. The forest is also part of NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Game Lands program. You can get permits to hunt Deer, turkey, and small game. Be sure to check the DuPont State Recreational Forest’s website for rules and no hunting zones.

You won’t find any shortage of things to do at DuPont Recreational Forest. From hiking, to mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, or just taking in the views. There’s really too much to do in a single day, and every time you return you’re sure to find something new.

More Information:
DuPont State Recreational Forest Field Report 2
DuPont State Recreational Forest Field Report 1

Fast Facts about DuPont State Forest

Type:State Forest and Park
Location:Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
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Things to do: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Bike Trails, Lots of Scenery, Waterfall Viewing, Lakes, Fishing, and Hunting

Map to DuPont State Forest