Yesterday we enjoyed a rare weekend ‘day off’ due to some work being done at the inn, so we headed down to DuPont State Recreational Forest. For some reason this is one place we hadn’t visited in our nine years here. It was a beautiful 60+ degree spring-like day in February; the kind of mild winter day we have grown to look forward to – and love – here in western North Carolina. The 60 mile trip took us a little over an hour. With the weather and the views cooperating, the time went by quickly.
We arrived about 1PM and found the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center already full. After turning around and heading back out to find a space in another lot we spotted what was literally the last (or first!) space at the entrance. Then we remembered this was a Saturday – a rare time for us to be out and about – but clearly a day when most everybody else was!
DuPont Forest was one of the film locations for the first Hunger Games. As we left the Visitor Center along the wide white sandy path that cut through the thick forest, it became clear why this area was chosen for many of the movie’s forest scenes. The dense forest growth was as impressive as anything you’d find in the deep Appalachian wilderness, but the path was very wide and well manicured; tailor made for a film crew, cameras and booms. In our 2.5 mile hike, we passed two majestic waterfalls: High Falls and Triple Falls. A third waterfall, Hooker Falls, is also nearby.
DuPont is a relatively compact park, yet for all the vehicles in the parking areas, we didn’t feel like we were part of a tourist herd even though we were in the most popular area of the park between Hooker Falls and the Visitor Center. In fact as we hiked back along Triple Falls Trail, we were often the only hikers in sight. The park layout obviously does a good job in spreading out the visitors so that it doesn’t feel crowded. In all there are 84 trails for all abilities. Most are fairly short – less than a mile. But there are some of between 2 and 4 miles. Many of these are multi-use trails for equestrian and bicycling as well as hiking.
DuPont Forest is a nice day trip – or part of a day trip – for anyone looking for an easy (or at least short) hike with lovely scenery. It was really more like a walk in the woods in the area we chose. Wide trails with no tricky footing issues; gently sloping inclines and declines, but nothing steep except for the steps down to the base of Triple Falls. All told, we enjoyed a leisurely day out- and-about in another beautiful location not too far away!