DuPont State Forest

More than 10,000 acres of forests and waterfalls can be explored in this park, many of which have served as a backdrop in Hollywood films.

DuPont State Forest, made famous as the setting for the movies The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans, is home to amazing waterfalls, mountain lakes and hiking trails. DuPont State Forest is located in Western North Carolina near the South Carolina state line, and is less than an hour drive (40 miles) south of Asheville. 

Choose from 86 miles of trails in the 10,000-acre forest. While most people visit DuPont to hike, it's also one the Asheville area's best places for mountain biking.

Top Things to Do at DuPont State Forest Near Asheville, N.C.

High Falls in beautiful DuPont State Forest near Asheville, NC1. Hike to waterfalls: The most popular waterfall hike in DuPont State Forest takes you to three of the Asheville area's most beautiful falls on an easy-to-moderate, 2.2-mile round trip hike. Check out our guide to the Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls waterfall hike for more information and directions. Or, download a waterfall trail map and create your own hiking adventure. You can also purchase a digital GPS trail map from Friends of DuPont Forest, a nonprofit organization that works to protect the Forest’s natural resources. All proceeds go back into projects supporting the Forest. 

Here is an at-a-glance look at the four top waterfall trails and hikes in DuPont:

  • Hooker Falls — Just a one-mile round trip hike from the parking area of the same name, Hooker Falls is easy to explore. While the falls is only 12 feet high, it's a wide waterfall, creating a beautiful pool that is a popular swimming hole on warm days.
  • Triple Falls — In the other direction from the parking area from Hooker Falls, Triple Falls is also just a one-mile round trip hike. This unique waterfall features three cascades that drop a total of 120 feet! A short detour off the trail down a series of stairs takes you to a large, flat rock area just above the third cascade. It's a great spot for a picnic.
  • High Falls — A half mile from Triple Falls, you'll find High Falls. High Falls is the tallest waterfall in DuPont State Forest as it drops 150 feet. There is an overlook on the trail that provides a great view of the falls, especially when the leaves are off the trees in late fall and winter. Or, add another half mile to your adventure on a spur trail to reach the base of the falls. The trail to High Falls can be accessed by either the Hooker Falls or High Falls parking areas.
  • Bridal Veil Falls — This 120-foot waterfall is a 4-mile round trip hike from the High Falls Parking Area. Bridal Veil Falls doesn't have a dramatic drop like the others, instead it rushes over a sloped rock. See our guide to hiking to Bridal Veil Falls.

Mountain Biking in Fall near Asheville, NC2. Go mountain biking: DuPont State Forest is a top mountain biking destination in the region. Ride on forest roads or granite rock faces along the more than 80 miles of trails that are open to mountain bikers. Among the most popular biking trails is Cedar Rock Mountain, best accessed by the Corn Mills Shoals Access Area.

3. See the covered bridge: The Covered Bridge above High Falls was built by a developer who had planned to build homes in this part of the forest before the state of North Carolina purchased the land for preservation. Now, you can enjoy this scenic location that makes a great spot for photos.

4. Explore mountain lakes: While not as heavily visited as the waterfalls, the lakes in DuPont State Forest are no less beautiful. Lakes include Fawn Lake and Lake Julia, both of which you can see on the same 4-mile round trip hike. 

Winter Squirrel in DuPont State Forest near Asheville, NC5. Spot wildflowers and wildlife: The State Forest features all kinds of wildlife including deer, turkey, bear and snakes. In the spring, wildflowers such as yellow lady's slippers, flame azalea, Turk's Cap lillies and yellow fringe orchids burst into bloom

6. Visit The Hunger Games filming locations: See where the "arena" scenes were filmed at DuPont State Forest. Our guide to The Hunger Games filming near Asheville includes a virtual tour to where the movie was filmed in DuPont State Forest, and what the stars of the movie did in Asheville while in town. 

Plan Your Visit to DuPont State Forest

What to know

COST: It is free to visit DuPont State Forest—there is no admission fee.

HOURS: DuPont State Forest is open 7 days a week from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

WHEN TO VISIT: Because of the ease of access to waterfalls, DuPont State Forest is a very popular place to visit. On the weekends, parking areas fill up fast and many people are on the trails. Consider visiting earlier in the morning or on a weekday to avoid crowds.

PARKING: There are six parking lots that provide access to various points in the forest.

VISITOR CENTER: There is one main visitor center located at the High Falls Access Area. The Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center is staffed 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from March 15 to December 31. From January 1 to March 14, it is open on weekends only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here you can pick up trail maps, get directions, enjoy free wi-fi internet access and utilize the public restrooms. When using a GPS, enter 89 Buck Forest Road, Cedar Mountain, NC to navigate to the visitor center.

FACILITIES: In addition to restroom facilities at the visitor center, there are restrooms and changing rooms at the Hooker Falls Access Area. 

WATERFALL SAFETY: While waterfalls are beautiful, they are also powerful and pose hidden dangers to those who are unprepared or who do not follow basic safety measures. Before visiting DuPont State Forest, please review our guide to waterfall safety

Directions

From downtown Asheville, take I-240 W to I-26 E. Follow I-26 E to Exit 40 (NC-280/Asheville Regional Airport). Head south on NC-280 for about 16 miles. Near the community of Brevard, turn left onto US-64 E. Travel four miles to the small community of Penrose. Turn right onto Crab Creek Road (there is a gas station at this intersection) and head four miles to DuPont Road. Turn right on DuPont Road and continue 3.1 miles to the forest.

Access areas are well signed. Look for the Hooker Falls Access Area for the three-waterfall hike described above. Or, navigate to the visitor center by following signs for the High Falls Access Area. 

History of DuPont State Forest 

In the modern history of the area known as DuPont State Forest, the State of North Carolina purchased the land for the recreation area in three major phases between 1995-2000. The land purchases began when the DuPont Corporation sold its industrial operation and surrounding land holdings. The Conservation Fund worked with North Carolina officials to facilitate the public purchase.

The 2,200-acre area in the middle of the forest, including High Falls, Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, was acquired by the State in October of 2000. The land was acquired following a legal battle with a real estate developer who was building a large residential housing development in the middle of the State Forest.

After the acquisition of the land, volunteers worked for three weeks on the trails. The waterfall trails at DuPont State Forest opened to the public December 17, 2000.

Source: Friends of DuPont State Forest