Thursday, November 11, 2010

Road Trip #1: High Falls and Triple Falls at Dupont State Forest

It's the time of year when we're getting winter weather advisories for the northern part of the county... the mountains have had some snow fall, and we in the Foothills of the Blue Ridge are feeling the chill. So, sometimes a day hike isn't always in the cards.

My husband and I have, however, managed to wedge in some really special day trips into North Carolina as the weather cools, the first being about a month ago with my parents into Dupont State Forest. Dupont is located outside of Brevard, NC, on 276 on the way north out of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area towards Pisgah National Forest.

Dupont State Forest is home to some really majestic waterfalls, two of which we were able to visit with my folks that cloudy Sunday... with my parents' family dog: Sasha. Sasha is not your average dog. Indeed, she's comparable to Dee Dee in Dexter's Laboratory, complete with pink collar and leash. Sasha is part lab, and she is not going to be a hiking dog, as her energy level far exceeds that of the well trained dogs I've seen carrying their own packs across their backs, wandering after their master obediently along the trail without even a leash. Dupont State Forest's main attractions are accessible from really well maintained service roads and dirt roads for trails that are perfect for large groups and hyper puppies!

After a slight detour (we were almost to Asheville because apparently Dad's GPS decided to be hateful after Dad drove us north of Lyman because I naively assumed he remembered his way to Highway 11 and 276's intersection) that made our hour car trip two and a half hours, our baby Sasha was ready to go (literally and figuratively)! Mom took a potty break in the toilets available by the Buck Forest Road parking lot off Staton Road, while Sasha took hers in the grass next to the car. Dupont is well marked along 276, so just follow the signs once you're north of Caesar's Head State Park.

We headed down Buck Forest Road, which is a dirt service road that guests to the park can not take their own vehicles down. We caught sight of the covered bridge that goes over Little River at the head of High Falls. It's quite picturesque!

We snapped a few photos and let Sasha splash in the shallows of Little River, then it was up to the High Falls Trail that leads to a convenient overlook, which is very family friendly; however, the smaller, more narrow trail that heads down to the base of the falls is much more strenuous, and I can imagine incredibly dangerous after rainfall or if the weather has iced things over. There were some steps down part way, but mostly we scrambled down using tree and rhododendron roots as foot and hand holds; whilst poor Dad fought the war of the leash with excited Sasha! Steven helped my Mom down, as it is quite a balancing act! What a gentleman! Once down there though, we were blown away!

This was my shot from the base of High Falls, where we let Sasha jump head first into the water (lunatic dog) and all stopped to enjoy the enormity of this falls. It really is awe inspiring. Hopefully you'll be able to go see for yourself!

This was the view of High Falls and the covered bridge from the overlook; again, the overlook is probably the most appropriate vantage point for people with small kids, handicapped, or elderly folk with them, and let's admit it... that's an awesome sight no matter which way you look at it!

After enjoying High Falls, and convincing Sasha to get out of the kiddy pool/Little River, we headed further up into the park along the major trail that heads along the surprisingly calm Little River. Sometime in the future, though, I'll be sure to head west over the covered bridge along Buck Forest Road, where the meat of the Forest trails are and one could hike to Wintergreen Falls and Grassy Creek Falls as a good day hike.

The High Falls Trail has a pretty minor gain in elevation; it's a very easy trail though, as it's maintained for the large groups that flock to Triple Falls and High Falls. We approached Triple Falls from upstream, and reached the stairwell to access the base of the middle section of Triple Falls; and that stairwell was not a joke. All the way down we were thinking, "Climbing these stairs back up will be awesome!" The only one of our party not phased was of course Sasha!

Who blames the sweet puppy, when these views are at the end of your leash! She knows what's important!

This photo just captures the middle and upper section of Triple Falls, where the stairwell sets you down amidst this lovely feature. There are usually tons of people all over Triple Falls; it's pretty easy to climb along all three sections of the falls, for those fit and careful enough to attempt it. My husband and I climbed to the top, while Mom, Dad, and Sasha just took the opportunity to take it all in!

This is a close up of the upper falls. There are innumerable beautiful angles to see this sight from!

This last shot is of the lower falls, which we didn't climb down to as the rain was coming. We barely had time to climb back up the stairwell and snap a shot from the Triple Falls overview before the downpour began, but here is that photo!

We headed back to the Buck Forest Road parking area by taking the Triple Falls Trail from the Triple Falls overview, to cut off some ground and make a little better time; not that it helped us when the rain started. What began as a few drops became a typical Carolina afternoon downpour! By the time we got back to the car twenty minutes later, we all smelled like wet puppy; certainly couldn't blame it all on Sasha, though!

Another point of interest in Dupont State Forest is Hooker Falls, and you can easily access this falls from another short trail from the Triple Falls area, but we got rained out! It just gives us an excuse to head back up to the beautiful, well maintained area of Dupont State Forest sometime in the spring! Bring a sandwich, as it is about two miles of easy hiking from the Buck Forest Road parking area to High and Triple Falls. Elevation isn't really an issue, and the overlooks are very accessible for those who don't consider themselves hikers or climbers. We were lucky that we were in such shape that we could all go to the base of the falls we visited and get closer up the grandeur of it all! I highly recommend Dupont to those who find themselves near Brevard, as a pit stop on your way to Asheville or Hendersonville! Check out this link for a really simple map of the trails that lead to the three most popular falls in the park! Waterfalls of Dupont State Forest

I dedicate this post to my Mom, who braved a day at a State Forest with her crazies... because Mom knows better than any one that Sasha is in fact the most sane of us all! I love you, Mom!

To my readers and solitary follower (thanks, Dad!), I haven't forgotten my nerdy post about healthy eating and hiking as new lifestyle choices for myself. Life is getting very hectic, and I'm trying to keep a balance, and my sanity! Thanks for all of your patience, prayers, and feedback. Hopefully my husband and I will have a chance this weekend to visit Chimney Rock State Park, and I will have a new Road Trip post, in lieu of a day hike with my Dad. I'll keep doing my best to make interesting, informative posts.

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