The legs ached and we were short of breath as we pushed further up the mountain trail. Walking straight up one trail for what seemed like forever, we could finally hear the sounds of crashing water ahead. Just beyond a wall of trees, in a clearing, we saw the mist rise up from Triple Falls.
The power of the water falling as it poured over the rocks was quite a sight and well worth the hike. For the next half hour we sat next to the falls eating some snacks and preparing for the next leg of the hike in one of the best kept secrets in North Carolina-- DuPont State Forest between Hendersonville and Brevard.
DuPont State Forest is the newest state forest in North Carolina sporting more than 10,000 acres of forest, trails, and waterfalls. The land, once owned by DuPont, was acquired in the 90s and was opened to the public in 2000. More than 100 miles of trails were cut through the forest to allow visitors to explore the park and its many lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
A fan of camping and exploring, I had wanted to visit the park during the spring to avoid the heat and mosquitoes. Not unlike my last camping adventure, the nights were a little cold but the days were very pleasant while biking and hiking throughout the park.
Part of the reason I wanted to visit the park was to view the waterfalls, the other reason--mountain biking. I do not claim to be an expert or even a novice on a bike in the mountains but I love an adventure. So armed with a beat up bike and backpack full of camera gear I set out to ride and document the falls.
A quick recap-- one beginner mountain biker, one old bike and a backpack full of expensive camera equipment. Recipe for success if you ask me.
Actually the trails were fairly easy to navigate and the hardest part was climbing the steep roads -- especially since I am not in the best of biking shape. A few trails we found were rugged and rocky or filled with mud, water and river crossings. A muddy bike and a couple of bruises is all I had to show from my adventure. Obviously the camera made it or this would be a very short photoblog.
Between riding the bike and pushing the bike up hills, we got to see some great waterfalls. Many of the falls at the state forest were featured in the movie 'Last of the Mohicans' including Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Most of the falls are along Little River and easily accessible from the main road. Starting at Hooker Falls, we traveled up the trail to Triple Falls before climbing to the top and viewing High Falls. The trail was steep but worth the hike as each fall was better than the last.
The last fall we visited was my favorite -- Bridal Veil Falls. The waterfall is unique because it drops off a ledge allowing visitors the opportunity to walk behind the falls. The sound was deafening as the rushing water echoed off the walls behind the fall.
One word of advice, be careful walking on the rocks around the waterfalls. They can be slick and dangerous if you don't pay attention to where you are walking, especially at the falls flowing over granite rocks.
Nursing a few sore muscles, we decided to take a break from hiking and see the area around the state forest. We traveled to Brevard, NC before traveling to Highlands, NC. The trip down US-64 was a relaxing journey with great views of the mountains. Nothing better than seeing the mountains through the window of a moving vehicle, especially if the legs are aching.
Along the road we found multiple water falls which I had to stop and see. One such fall, Cullasaja Falls near Highlands, could only be reached by a steep slippery trail just off the road. Really, it wasn't even a trail, more like a path made by those who were trying to reach the bottom of the falls.
I reached the bottom and spent a couple of minutes shooting then cleaning the lens before trying to shoot again in hopes of having a clear, mist free picture. Feeling content, I tried finding the trail which seemed easier to spot from the top and eventually traversed the face of a slick rock to reach the car.
It was worth it though -- the muddy bike rides, aching muscle and perilous trails for a chance to see the waterfalls in the forest and along US-64.
Water is soothing and it was very calming to watch the water as it followed its course down the mountain.
Dupont State Forest can be found online and offers camping and lodging through the website. For those just wanting to make a day trip out of it, I suggest the trail between Hooker Falls and High Falls.
The Appalachian Mountain range is very scenic and DuPont State Forest offers a small glimpse of that beauty.
Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at firstname.lastname@example.org.