|Hike 14: DuPont State Forest|
Monday in Asheville dawned leaving no doubt about the coming rain for the day. As Ann said, we could stay at the B&B and hunker down behind the TV or we could do what we set out to do and hike our fourteenth hike of 2017 at DuPont State Recreational Forest, technically in Cedar Mountain, NC. The closest town of any size is Brevard. DuPont was transferred from the DuPont company to the state of North Carolina and is home to a great concentration of spectacular waterfalls in close proximity, waterfalls known from recent movies such as Last of the Mohicans and Hunger Games.
But first things first. Breakfast. Because of the short hike and short travel time, we had plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast in the dining room of the B&B and the breakfasts there are really not to be missed. After a starter of fresh pineapple, we were served a delicious smoked salmon and dill egg bake along with perfectly cooked asparagus and a blueberry-lemon muffin. Coffeehounds that we are, we loaded up pre-trip with several cups of very good coffee.
|Smoked Salmon Egg Bake, Asparagus, and Blueberry Muffin|
|Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) in Black Walnut Tree|
|Well and Truly Pouring Almost All Day|
When you are approaching the park coming south on Staton Road from Crab Creek Road, you will descend a hill with a clearly visible bridge over the river. Start slowing and turn right into the Hooker Falls parking lot just before the bridge. Drive through the lower lot into the upper parking lot facing the footbridge over the river. You will start hiking by going to the river by the bridge and turning right (downstream) and following it a short distance to Hooker Falls. Continuing downstream just a few yards, you can walk down by the river and see the falls from below.
The directions we had were so convoluted that we ended up in a small cemetery a few hundred yards from where we should have been. Remember: go to the footbridge and follow the river to the right downstream.
|Below Hooker Falls|
One thing I thought was really cool was seeing Spanish moss hanging from trees along the river. In the fog and mists, the wispy strands of moss gave our environs quite an eerie feeling. Unfortunately, in the rain, the effect didn't translate to photos. It just made the trees look foggy and out of focus. I mention the moss because I surely did not expect to see Spanish moss in this particular part of the world.
|Lyre-leaved Sage, Salvia lyrata|
|Black Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia|
|Gorgeous Aronia melanocarpa Blooming|
|Carolina Spicebush, Calycanthus floridus|
|On the Rocks by Triple Falls|
|High Falls from Below|
|High Falls from Overlook|
|Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) Nest|
|Covered Bridge Above High Falls|
During our brief stop for lunch, I watched both Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Eastern Phoebes come and go, obviously nesting under bridge.
|Interior Detail of the Bridge|
|Swamp Just Past Bridge|
Head to Bridal Veil Falls by continuing across the bridge on Buck Forest Road and take the next right on Conservation Road. The better part of a mile along, you'll cross a creek (actually the overflow from the Lake Julia dam) and then the earthen dam itself will loom above you on your left. It was just about the dam when it started thundering and the heavens opened up. The rain became a fairly brutal downpour for about 10 minutes.
Continue walking the road until you come to Bridal Veil Falls Road and turn right. There is a small spur road heading right that you might confuse with Bridal Veil Falls Road, but the one you want to take is a bit further on and is clearly signposted. You will see horse barns just up on the left after you turn. The road quickly dead ends in a loop. The short trail to the falls leaves from the back of the turn around loop.
Bridal Veil Falls is completely different from the other falls we saw. It is a big lacy sheet of whitewater spilling down over a mounded dome of rock, really cool to see even in the pouring rain. I feel like it was worth the extra 3.5 miles to see. Your mileage may vary.
|Bridal Veil Falls|
DuPont State Forest was a wonderful place to visit for a short hike that took in four waterfalls. I know of no other place where you can see so many great falls so close together. Definitely, definitely worth going out of your way to visit.
1. Hiking in the rain is underrated. The woods close in around you and it is a totally different feeling, especially with your rain hood creating limited visibility. And there will likely be no other fools to bother you. If you go with the flow and it is warm enough, it can be relaxing. On the other hand, I once spent four straight days on the AT just north of Springer in December in the rain and I can safely say that it was a miserable and dangerous experience.
2 Pit zips in rain jackets are awesome. Wearing rain gear is always a balance between getting wet from the rain on the outside and getting wet on the inside from perspiration. Pit zips really help.
3. That first bit of warming sunshine after a rainstorm is so welcome. It turning into a miasmic swamp is so not welcome.
4. There is no waterfall not worth seeing.
5. Keen Newport sandals are really wonderful for non-technical hikes. Between Max Patch, walking around Asheville, and this hike, I put nearly 15 miles on them in two days, the first time I've ever really done more than use them in and around water. Extremely comfortable with the caveat that you can pick up a lot of grit inside them. Perfect for a non-demanding hike in the rain.
6. You've had a great day when a place is so beautiful that you really don't want to leave
Now on to post hike beers. When we got signal on our phones, we found Brevard Brewing on the main drag in Brevard. It was the first brewery in Transylvania County and is widely praised for their beers. They are a lager specialist in a world of ale houses, but lager isn't necessarily my thing. I made the mistake of telling our bartender that I was a hop head and that apparently pissed him off, hops not being their thing.
He put a glass of drinkable enough IPA (no doubt their customers forced them into brewing an ale against their will) in front of me with a side of attitude. No taste, no banter, just a glass of IPA and a helping of eye roll. Ann got something brown and whispered in my ear, "The bartender's a dick and I don't want to give him any more of our money," so we finished our beer and moved along to Ecusta Brewing just down the road. To be clear, we went to their production facility called the Pisgah Forest location rather than their tasting room on Main St.
|Good IPA, Bad Attitude|
|Good Times at Ecusta Brewing|
|F.U.P.A: "Messed Up" Pale Ale|
|Some of the Fairly Rowdy Bar Crew|
|Who is Very Happy?|
|Green Man: Trying Another Asheville Beer|
|Crab Spliff Roll, Pretty Good Drinking Food|