The national parks like Pisgah and Great Smoky Mountains get a lot of attention around Asheville, but there are some truly incredible state and private parks that are just as worthy of a visit.
Just over an hour outside of Asheville is DuPont State Forest [1300 Staton Road, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718], a huge park with 80+ miles of multiuse trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It is such a beautiful place, the falls and forest have been featured in many films including the Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans. The most popular of the 10,000 acres of land is a trail that accesses three fantastic waterfalls in about three miles. The first stroll I took was over to Hooker Falls, a twelve-foot drop into a pool perfect for swimming in the hot summer heat. I say stroll because it’s less than a ½ mile to get to the falls on relatively easy terrain. The drop isn’t so tall, but the falls are wide and powerful.
Best part for me is cooling down in the big pool at the base, at your own risk. Some people were climbing up the rock ledge under the falls and sliding down into the water.
Next up is a bit further of a walk, cross over the bridge and head to Triple Falls. As you might have guessed, there are three distinct cascades which equate to 120’ all together.
You can get up close and personal with portions of the falls by walking out onto the exposed rocks.
Next down the line is the powerful High Falls, which I found to be the most picturesque. A single shot, 120’ down a plane of granite – best spot to snap is a shot is from the viewing area high up, but it’s fun to scramble out onto the rocks and get a closer look.
Some people were even swimming right to the base of the falls. At the top of the waterfall there is a covered bridge.
I was enjoying the park so much I decided to extend my hike, walk through the bridge and over to Grassy Creek Falls.
This area was much quieter, barely any other visitors ventured outside the popular three. The waterfall was unique, on a very gradual incline – I had viewing all to myself.
Good to know: free to enter, well signed, and restrooms available.