The more than 11,000-acre DuPont State Recreational Forest has become a national recreation destination. The Cedar Mountain community is the gateway to DuPont State Recreational 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 and trail courtesy among mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians allows most 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.
This year, the forest will be adding a permanent restroom near the Hooker Falls access area. During the construction, the upper lot at the Hooker Falls will be closed to facilitate the construction process. The forest’s staff is seeking the public’s assistance during this time and is asking visitors not to block the road or vehicle access in the parking area. The public should also refrain from attempting to enter the parking lot with large vehicles, especially on busy days.
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 winter, 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.
Triple Falls and 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 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. A big emphasis for 2018 and every year is visitor safety around waterfalls and surrounding areas (see the related story in this publication). There were six waterfall-related deaths in Transylvania County in 2016 and two last year. 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 will be enforcing 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 DuPont Forest but must always be on a physical leash and under control by an adult always. Rock climbing is prohibited in DuPont Forest. Swimming or wading within 300 feet upstream of a waterfall and jumping off waterfalls are also prohibited.
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.
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 week-day 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 then right on DuPont Road.
The DuPont State Recreational Forest office may be reached at (828) 877-6527 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the forest visit online at http://www.ncforestservice.gov/Contacts/dsf.htm.