When holidays are close, I am often asked to recommend a trail that is easy enough to take visitors when they are with us here in the western part of the state.
I have something I think you will enjoy, and it should make you look like a star to your guests. This trail won’t kill you and it is guaranteed to burn off that extra helping of sweet potatoes. You know, the ones with the marshmallows baked on the top.
Four Waterfalls Trail – DuPont State Forest
Difficulty: Moderate. Yes, there is plenty of uphill, but the scenery helps you get over the hard part.
Shoes: Almost any lace-up athletic shoe will work fine. Trail is basically dry.
Time: We spent less than three hours including many stops to take pictures. Make sure you allow picture-taking time when you plan your trip.
Distance/Elevation Gain: From the parking area, it will be almost five miles. Elevation gain is just under 700 feet. The trail is primarily a loop configuration with some spur options. My recommendation is that you hike every trail.
Safety: Some of the routes allow bicycles. The narrower and steeper trails are hikers only. We met a few cyclists with absolutely no difficulty. You should carry water. Unless there is a specific reason, a day pack will not be necessary. Bring a mask.
Courtesy: We went on a weekday morning. Parking was not an issue. There were other hikers on the trail but not in bunches or large numbers. It might be a little more crowded on the weekend or over the holidays.
The trail is so scenic and relatively easy that everyone seemed relaxed and enjoying the exercise. I never once heard anyone complain or ask, “How much farther?” Everyone we met seemed to be having a good experience.
The trails were exceptionally clean. No “throwaway” items on the ground in front of us or in the woods. As you know, we need to keep it that way.
HOW TO GET THERE:
I think that these days, almost everyone has a GPS device of some sort. Search for DuPont State Forest or look for the intersection of Crab Creek Road and DuPont Road. Get on DuPont Road and head toward the park. The name of the road will change to Staton Road. Stay on Staton until you see the first parking area on the right. That will be the trail head for this hike. Don’t go to the visitor’s center. That is another set of trails. If you go across the Little River bridge, that’s too far. From Marion, expect to be in the car about an hour and a half.
If you can, go through the lower parking area to spaces a little further up the road. There will be some portable toilets. All the restrooms in the park are closed.
From the parking area, you will see the obvious entry to the trail. The first trail is to the right. That would normally lead to Hooker Falls, but is now closed for repair.
Head across the footbridge and begin the hike by following the trail under the highway and along the river to your left. Immediately, you will notice how wide and comfortable the trail is underfoot. With a few exceptions, expect this throughout the hike.
The level hiking soon turns to a rather steep climb. You’ll hear it before you see it. Then, to your left is Triple Falls. I know you can’t hear me yelling, but this view is spec–tac–u–lar!
The falling water here and at the next location is possibly the best I have seen in the state. As my hiking buddies said, one would have to go to Yellowstone or Yosemite for something comparable.
I’m trying to prepare you for this magnificent shock because if you are the host and have guests, you need to be able to allow them to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ while you maintain that aloof, Barney Fife, arms-akimbo stance. Time to let them know who is in charge here.
After a while, continue your climb. The trail will fork. This is where the loop starts and ends. I recommend the trail to the right. The climb will become a little easier. This is the High Falls loop. No blazes, but the signage is excellent.
When the trail gets to the top, there will be another option. Turn to the left and the High Falls Loop takes you to another waterfall and then home. I recommend you go to your right and out to the gravel road. This is the Covered Bridge Loop. Turn left and follow it until you see the covered bridge.
The decision now is to cross the bridge and go on to Grassy Creek Falls or take the trail to the left which also heads home. If you have plenty of time or just want to get in more steps, go to Grassy Creek. Just be aware that on this trail the effort will be greater than the payoff. The falls are just not that terrific. But it is a nice walk out and back if you choose to take it.
When you return and cross the bridge again (or before you cross the bridge if you choose not to go to Grassy Creek), you will see the Covered Bridge Trail head off the gravel road and up the hill. Follow this trail until you intersect the High Falls Trail. Turn to the right and start downhill.
Soon you come to, what I think is the prettiest of all the falls, aptly named, High Falls. No words here. Just enjoy it and head home. There is a short spur trail that leads to the bottom of the falls if you choose. Nice but not great. Continue back past Triple Falls and on to the car.
Don’t bother with the visitor’s Ccnter for souvenirs or maps. It is closed.
Just head toward Brevard for barbecue, unless you are traveling on a Monday, the universal day of the closed in North Carolina.
If you have guests this holiday or if you haven’t seen this one, I strongly urge you to go. This is truly nature at its best in WNC.
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