We had a backpacking trip planned for this weekend, but due to our schizophrenic weather we ended up cancelling last minute. This was the weather forecast for that week:
Monday: Hello, Spring!
Tuesday: No, wait – that was false spring.
Wednesday: Is that…hail? Yes, yes it is.
Thursday: THE SUN. IS BURNING. MY SKIN.
Friday: We are North of the Wall, and winter is coming.
Ahhh, nothing like life in the South.
Anyways – we were glad we cancelled because the weather did end up going below freezing both nights, but it was clear skies on Saturday. Chris and I decided to take advantage of the cloudless day and head up to DuPont State Forest. We did not take our dogs on this hike because we were meeting up with a larger group, but this is a fantastic trail for your pups!
You may have never heard of DuPont, but if you’ve seen The Hunger Games then you are familiar with it! Do you remember the part where Katniss almost stepped on Peeta’s face because he went all Cake Boss on himself and then she dragged him through the river? Yep. That was filmed here!
So, DuPont State Forest – if you are looking for an easy hike with tons of great waterfalls AND a covered bridge, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll get straight to the point: this is THE perfect hike for you and your furbabies. They even have doggie bag stations along the trail (yes, I’m perfectly serious).
Here is a map of the area for reference.
Getting There: A
It is super easy to get to DuPont, and a little over 2 hours drive from Charlotte. We started at the Hooker Falls Trailhead – 1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718. You’ll turn onto Dupont Road from Crab Creek, and Dupont turns into Staton Road. This takes you to a gravel parking area on your right – just before the bridge. There are two parking areas, both access the trailhead to Hooker Falls and Triple Falls Trail. There are Porta Potties there, but don’t fret – they have them scattered along the trail at picnic areas as well (again, I am perfectly serious). At the trailhead is a large map that shows the different trails in the area. We recommend starting with the easy up-and-back of Hooker Falls, just to get warmed up!
Trails & Terrain: A
The trails throughout Dupont are wide, gravel roads. So, it’s easy, but it doesn’t feel like a “hike” at most times. It’s basically like walking down a country road, and then you just happen upon a beautiful waterfall. Don’t get me wrong, there are DEFINITELY some steep inclines along the way, but for the most part it is easily accessible and very well marked and maintained. We did this as an “up and back” trail – hiking to Bridal Veil Falls and then back to the parking lot, but as you can see on the map there are a ton of trails to choose from. We just like this route because of the great views.
We went to Hooker Falls first (37 on the map) – from the trailhead if you are looking at the bridge go to the trail on your right. It’s about ¼ mile downhill to the falls. You first reach a “window” in the forest to a view of the top of the falls, and the trail continues down from there to the base of the falls. A great little stroll – the falls are just about 15 feet high so it’s no Niagara, but it is a pretty view!
Hike back up to the trailhead, then cross the bridge over Little River. This takes you first to Triple Falls and then on to High Falls. Triple Falls Trail (#77 on the map) is a bit of a steeper climb, but still on a wide open trail, and only about 1 mile from the bridge. There’s a great overlook on the left side of the trail that shows you the full “triple” of the Triple Falls, then continue on until you reach the stairs on your left. These will take you to the base of the middle waterfall. It’s a long set of stairs, but don’t worry – they have built-in passing lanes along the way so the slow and infirm can get the heck outta my way because THERE ARE WATERFALLS TO BE SEEN, PEOPLE! (I’m told they are more commonly known as rest areas…whatever).
Splash around (carefully), take some pics, look over the edge (but not too far), and then hike back up those stairs. Continue up the trail towards High Falls, which is about a 2 mile hike that follows the Little River. These are absolutely beautiful, and you can hike to the base but we don’t really recommend it with pups. At the overlook you can get your first glimpse of the covered bridge at the top of the falls.
Keep moving up the trail and you’ll walk across the covered bridge. If you choose to keep going (we recommend you do!), you can make the trek to Bridal Veil Falls. Follow Conservation Road (#18) for a little over 2 ½ miles to the Bridal Veil Falls Trail (#6) and you’ll pass by a horse barn. Continue on for another ½ mile and you’ve reached Bridal Veil! This is a 120 foot fall with water cascading down the rocks. You can see where over time the rocks have split off and come sliding down the side to rest at the base of the falls. It is absolutely stunning, and well worth the extra mileage. We recommend parking it at the base for a nice rest and watching the water rush down the rocks.
There aren’t campsites here, but along the trail are multiple covered picnic shelters and areas for rest. This is a great dayhike!
- DuPont has multiple trail options and parking lots – so people will enter the trails from all sorts of areas. Roads and smaller trails branch off of the main trails, so we’d recommend mapping out your planned route ahead of time. There is so much more to see than what we did! Lakes, rivers and more falls.
- Some of the trails are multi-use! Keep an eye out for mountain bikes, and in some places, vehicles.
- Not to “mom” you, except that’s exactly what I’m going to do, so just deal with it… WATERFALLS. ARE. DANGEROUS. Don’t be stupid and think you can walk across that wet rock – you can’t. We don’t need to be handing out Darwin Awards. You can enjoy the beauty of the falls from the safety of a DRY rock. Keep in mind your safety and the safety of your pup. They may be a “water dog” but this is not the place to go throwing a stick into a stream for your dog to fetch. That stream goes over a cliff. Keep your pups on a leash!
- This is a popular trail system, so on nice weekends it can get packed. Get there early to get a parking spot, and if you don’t like crowds on your hike I recommend going during a weekday or in the off-season.
Adventure Pup Rating: A
DuPont is a fantastic hike for your puppers. Wide trails make sure they aren’t blocking the path of other hikers, there are plenty of water breaks along the way, and the trails even have doggy bag stations for your convenience. This is even a good trail system for older pups who want to be outside but don’t have much energy – I’d just avoid going to Bridal Veil Falls. You can turn around at any time or alter your route.
A note from us:
This is NOT the trail for people who want to commune with nature and get all granola. It feels very “commercial” at times – with the picnic areas, trash cans, wide trails, and multiple access points you won’t be able to stop to meditate and contemplate the meaning of life. However, this is a perfect trip to go on with a group of friends. You can pack a lunch and catch up on the latest gossip, all while going on a nice stroll with great views. All told, I think our day ended up being a little over 7 miles. Well worth it!
Now, go and enjoy!