DuPont State Forest – January Thaw 2013

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Well, call it déjà vu…..unseasonably warm weather in January again. It seems like I was writing about this last year at this time when my Waterfallshiker blog began. A week has passed by since my last hike and entry. At that point I was hiking to a beautiful 69 foot waterfall in Virginia through thick snow and hard, slippery, and treacherous ice. This weekend, off to Dupont State Forest to enjoy the forecasted 70 degree plus weekend. It's amazing how fast the weather changes in NC. Just Friday, most of the state was in a deep fog, drizzle and struggling to reach 40.

As I approached the Hooker Falls parking area, the 1st thing I noticed was the road lined with cars, both sides of the road, above and below where it crosses the Little River. I knew at this point I would not have the forest to myself. It was Saturday after all, and a toasty 70; what did I expect?
With no place to park, I drove on to the next parking area, just a short ways down the road at the Buck Forest Parking area. This area is set to take over as the top place to park in Dupont, as there are now nice bathrooms, and running water. There is even a new building being constructed; office, visitor center? Not quite sure just yet. This location is the one that provides easy access for 5 of the 6 named Waterfalls in Dupont. Today, my main goal was to add a waterfall to my list that I had yet to see. The target was Grassy Creek Falls. I would see this and mix in whatever I could of the main 4 falls of the Little River. It just felt good to be out on the trail on this balmy January afternoon.

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The closest waterfall when parking at Buck Forest Road is High Falls. The location is just up road from the famous covered bridge that crosses the river just above the falls. A short trip down the covered bridge trail, or high falls trail will bring you to the overlook, showing off the picture above. While I love the enormous size that this waterfall provides from a distance, the waterfall really makes you feel small when you get up close to it. To get close to it, one must keep walking down the hill to the river. Going left takes you on to Triple Falls, going right brings you back upstream close to the overlook, just at river level. After a flat trail for the most part, some rock hopping along side the river must be done to reach the base of High Falls. Now it was a nice day at 70 degrees, but not in my wildest imagination would I plan to swim in this ice cold January water. Some others had different ideas…..

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After my time at High Falls, I went to Triple Falls. It was only 0.3 miles or so downstream. It is also quite a beautiful waterfall, or should I say 3 waterfalls, with the largest being to bottom one at about 45 feet. Viewing for this is easy along the Triple Falls Trail, or taking the 100 plus steps to the bottom of the middle waterfall for a truly up close view of Triple Falls. I decided to just take in the trail view, as I had more to visit.

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It was about here where the trail got somewhat jammed with people…..

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The next decision was a tricky one. Do I continue walking downstream to view Hooker Falls? Do I head back upstream for 2 miles to see another of my favorite falls, Bridal Veil Falls? Or do I head off to see a new waterfall? I chose on this day to get my first view of Grassy Creek Falls. This is a 20 foot waterfall/cascade along Grassy Creek, a major tributary of the Little River. The hike was a short one from the covered bridge which led past the falls , over a bridge and back down to falls. With the normal crowds of Dupont, it is nice to have a waterfall here that is more secluded. As I left here, I was thinking this this is quite a hidden jewel.

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After a short hike back to car, I had now had the option to park at Hooker Falls and hike to it, but darkness was just over the horizon, so it was time to head home.

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