Several of the largest and most picturesque cascades in North Carolina can be seen at DuPont State Forest, a 10,400-acre tract that straddles the Henderson/Transylvania county line southwest of Hendersonville. In addition to boasting waterfalls, DuPont State Forest offers hiking trails, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Fishing, swimming, and even hunting are allowed in specified areas.
From Charlotte, DuPont State Forest is approximately 125 miles away, a little less than a three-hour drive.
To see and do
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You may have a sense of déjà vu when viewing several of the waterfalls at DuPont, even if you’ve never been there before. That’s because Hooker, High, Triple, and Bridal Veil Falls were all used as backgrounds in the 1992 film “The Last of the Mohicans” starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Three of the cascades are easy to reach from the Hooker Falls parking lot.
The smallest, and easiest to get to, is the one that lends its name to the parking area. Hooker Falls is about a quarter-mile walk along a mostly-level gravel road. The waterfall is less than 15 feet tall, and there is a large pool at the base that makes for a very popular swimming hole – expect crowds on summer weekends.
Triple Falls is what its name implies – a series of three falls, each with its own pool. This three-in-one cascade can be viewed in all its splendor from an observation area along the main trail, or you can take paths down to the base of each individual fall. It’s about a half-mile walk from the Hooker Falls parking area to the observation point; the walk is rated easy to moderate.
It’s another three-quarter-mile or so uphill to the trail view of High Falls, an impressive cascade with a 100-foot vertical drop. A steep path leads down to the base of the falls. (Again, expect lots of people to be picnicking, sunbathing, or simply splashing around in the water.) From the trail view, you’ll see a covered bridge extending over the falls at the top. To reach this, continue the trail further uphill, then bear left onto Buck Forest Road and follow the trail to the bridge.
Still feeling adventurous? Cross the bridge and follow the road a short distance; turn right onto Conservation Road, walk about a half-mile, then turn right onto Bridal Veil Falls Road. It’s another half-mile or so to where the road ends near the base of the waterfall. The drop is only 10 feet, and you can get to a small area behind the behind the curtain of water. You’ll likely find this waterfall less crowded than the others.