Falling for DuPont State Recreational Forest in NC


From hiking to swimming and canoeing to fishing, an outdoor adventure land awaits in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ DuPont State Recreational Forest near Brevard. This 10,400-acre area offers more than 100 miles of recreational trails in lush forested land that encompasses lakes and waterfalls. It’s open to walkers, mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Admission to the park is free and the experience is priceless.

Putting the Rec in Recreational

“DuPont is a State Recreational Forest — the first and only recreational forest in the country,” says Bev Parlier, president of Friends of DuPont Forest, a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to enhancing the public enjoyment of the forest and protecting its resources.

“A good walking tour for families is the waterfall corridor,” she says. A map of this area that includes other suggested itineraries is available at the Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center at the High Falls entrance.

Visitors can take a challenging day hike, swim in a lake, walk underneath a waterfall, view an old barn, observe birds and animals, and marvel at the solid rock and granite domes. The forest features six major waterfalls and five lakes.

Nature Made Easy

DuPont State Recreational Forest is so well-designed, it can turn even the greenest outdoorsman into an expert. Parking lots are large and well-marked, facilities are clean, and trails are clear.

Many of the waterfall trails are short enough to stay enthusiastic and energized upon reaching your destination.

My 9-year old daughter, Bella, and I stopped at Cedar Mountain Café for a quick, delicious lunch before heading to the recreation area. We then stopped at Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center for advice on how to spend our day. The center’s rustic feel, modern facilities and large front porch encourage families to slow down and take in the quiet. Inside, find local maps, photos and books, plus a large topography map with trails, roads and rivers offering an eagle’s-eye view of where you’re headed.

We asked a ranger to suggest a short hike that would allow us to see a waterfall, dip into a swimming hole and enjoy the sunshine. He suggested Hooker Falls, a beautiful 6-minute walk downstream from the easy-to-find parking lot. It was exciting to spy the river alongside the trail and hear the thundering falls as we trekked closer.

Upon reaching the swimming hole at the bottom of the 11-foot waterfall drop, Bella and I saw several kids wading in the cool, calm water wearing goggles and floats, while others swam out to the middle of the lake to rest on warm rocks. We also saw canoes and fishermen enjoying the area. We spent an hour in the water and walked along the falls to watch kids of all ages enjoy the scenery.

Learn more about DuPont State Recreational Forest at dupontforest.com. Photo below of Hooker Falls in Dupont State Recreational Forest courtesy of Michele Huggins

Courtney McLaughlin is a freelance writer and Charlotte native who is feeling more confident about roughing it.


Refuel at Cedar Mountain Café

Cedar Mountain Café, located 10 minutes from DuPont State Recreational Forest in Cedar Mountain, is a fantastic place to fuel up before a big day on the trails.

Everything is local. From the natural wood and stone finishes to the herb garden and carved wooden bear statue, you feel welcome in this hometown eatery. My daughter, Bella, and I arrived hungry on a Sunday morning before our outdoor adventure.

Cedar Mountain Café offers basic lunch fare including sandwiches, wraps, burgers, soups and salads. The restaurant also serves breakfast including omelets, pancakes and house specialties until 2 p.m. I also noticed a delicious dinner menu.

After reminding myself I couldn’t order everything, I decided on the Southwest Wrap with chorizo, beans, onions, cheese and avocado ranch dressing. It was as good as it sounds, very fresh with tons of flavor! Bella ordered the ham and cheese panini, and it was equally satisfying. Although the café was busy the day we went, the service was quick, and we were in and out and on the trail in no time. It’s a great place to start or end your day at DuPont State Recreational Forest.



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