The more than 11,000-acre DuPont State Recreational Forest (DSRF) has become a national recreation destination. The Cedar Mountain community is the gateway to the forest, which is located 12 miles southeast of Brevard. There are little more than 7,000 acres of the forest in Transylvania County, while the remaining acres are in Henderson County.
There are 82 miles of forest roads and trails to explore by hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding. Almost all trails in the forest are multiple use. Trail courtesy among mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians allows users to have a positive experience. Mountain bikers must be able to stop in time to avoid disrupting other visitors. All users are cautioned to travel at safe speeds and be aware of changing trail conditions. Visitors should understand that this is a working forest, and that official vehicles are commonly encountered on the larger roads and trails.
The most popular destinations are Triple Falls and High Falls on the Little River, resulting in large crowds during the summer months. A 2.25-mile hike from the High Falls access area takes visitors to both waterfalls. Bridal Veil Falls is a 2.5-mile hike from the High Falls access area, or 2.25 miles from the Fawn Lake access area on Reasonover Road. Access areas are often filled to capacity and the N.C. Forest Service recommends visiting during the cooler months, weekdays or early in the morning. One of the more difficult hikes is to the top of Stone Mountain, which has an elevation of 3,640 feet. Visitors who are up to the challenge will be rewarded by panoramic views.
The forest has five mountain lakes. Lake Julia is the largest (99 acres) and can be reached from the Fawn Lake or High Falls access areas. Dense Lake is a beautiful spot with a picnic shelter and pier.
Anglers should know that all lakes are general waters and require a N.C. fishing license. DuPont State Recreational Forest is a three-day per week, permit-only Game Land. See the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s (NCWRC) Special Hunt Digest for more information. Fishing is permitted in accordance with NCWRC regulations. A portion of the Little River is stocked with trout under the delayed harvest program.
Triple Falls, High Falls and Lake Imaging have picnic shelters that can be reserved for a fee. There are also picnic tables near Hooker Falls, Fawn Lake and Lake Julia. No trash pickup is provided in the forest, so visitors must pack out their trash. Cooking fires, including charcoal grills, are not allowed and camping is not permitted.
Forest rangers are placing an emphasis on public safety and protecting the forest’s natural and scenic resources in the face of unprecedented growth in visitation. This is especially important during the busy season from March through November. Since 2015, visitors to the forest have exceeded 600,000 people per year. There is a strong emphasis on visitor safety around waterfalls and surrounding areas; Transylvania County has had multiple fatalities at waterfalls in recent years. Visitors should heed all forest signage and obey forest rules, especially in areas marked “Do Not Enter.” Visitors should be aware they are entering an environment with natural hazards and should avoid being in areas where slipping and falling could result in serious injuries. The most common forest rule violations concern animals at large (i.e., pets not on a leash and under control), littering and illegal climbing on rocks around the waterfalls. The forest staff enforces these rules with the intent to keep the forest a safe and enjoyable destination.
Some of the more popular areas for social gatherings, especially Fawn Lake and Hooker Falls, will also have increased patrols. DuPont State Recreational Forest is under the law enforcement jurisdiction of the N.C. Forest Service, the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
Pets are allowed in DSRF but must always be on a physical leash and under control by an adult. Rock climbing is prohibited in DuPont Forest.
Swimming or wading within 300 feet upstream of a waterfall and jumping off waterfalls are also prohibited.
Motorized vehicles, including ATVs and motorbikes, are prohibited on forest roads and trails. However, vehicle permits may be obtained for disabled visitors. Vehicle permits for disabled visitors are available most weekdays from May through October. The weekday disabled visitor permits must be requested 48 hours in advance by contacting the forest office at (828) 877-6527, ext. 207.
The forest is open year-round from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. To reach the forest from Brevard go south on U.S. 276 to Cedar Mountain and turn left on Cascade Lake Road. From Pisgah Forest take U.S. 64 East to Penrose, turn right on Crab Creek Road and then right on DuPont Road. The DuPont State Recreational Forest office may be reached at (828) 877-6527 or via email at email@example.com. To learn more about the forest visit www.ncforestservice.gov/Contacts/dsf.htm.