I haven’t been to DuPont State Forest in several years now. It is a great place, with some wonderful waterfalls. These waterfalls are some of the very early ones visited that really planted the “Waterfall Chasing” seed in me. However, due to its ease of access, numerous trails, numerous waterfalls varying in size and shape, and exposure in movies like “The Last Mohican”, and “Hunger Games”, it has become insanely popular. Large new gravel parking lots have been constructed to handle the increase in visitors. The sides of Staton Rd could no longer hold the overflow parking from the Hooker Falls parking area. Tours of the waterfalls of DuPont are now shuttled in and out by school buses at select times of the year. DuPont State Forest truly has become one of North Carolina’s top attractions. While I am glad to see this location get the love it truly deserves, there is a part of me left sad. Sad that I can no longer visit this place without hundreds of others. That is just not what it’s about for me. I have for the most part just focused on other waterfalls, leaving these for the masses.
Someone asked me awhile back….”When was I planning to return to DuPont”? I had no answer, not sure if ever. It would need to be a week day early in the morning, late in the evening, or during some weather conditions that kept the large masses away. Well it just so happens, after visiting “Pretty Place” for an early morning sunrise photo shoot, I was passing by the turn off for DuPont at about 6:30 am on a Monday morning. The weather was wonderful, the lighting conditions were still nice, so I took a chance. I parked at the new High Falls parking area near the top of the falls and went in. I actually made it to the waterfall without seeing anyone else. I was dreaming….. I arrived at the very popular High Falls and had the entire 150 foot waterfall on a nice morning all to myself. I was going to enjoy this.
The sun was just high enough to illuminate the surrounding trees a beautiful golden green color. The water was pretty low from the recent lack of rain, with hardly anything coming down on the left side of the waterfall. The next step was to get down to the base. There used to be a side trail just up the trail from the overlook that provided a quick way to the base. It did involve a section that was somewhat treacherous. I am certain that with the huge number of people coming in here, it was way too risky to leave this trail open. They now have blocked access by covering it with large brush piles. There are also ugly signs all along the trail now, telling people DO NOT ENTER. The only way to the base now is to descend down the main trail, and take a right at the Riverbend Trail when the main trail reaches the river and turns left. This is a flat trail that used to be for tying up horses mainly. It now handles everyone that wants to see High Falls from the base. It is short, and flat as I mentioned, but there is some large rock-rock hopping required to navigate around to get right in front of the falls. It is a lot longer than the old trail, but much safer and easier.
There are so, so many options of what and where to photograph once down here. When the water is low like this, it was easy to navigate all the way up to the edge of the falling water. This was a treat for me as I guess my last several times must have been in much higher water that kept me back further. It’s a whole different waterfall standing at the bottom that looking at it from way above . Speaking of way above, here is the overlook, as it appears from the base. The barely visible fence really does provide a nice distant view of the waterfall.
Sadly, all is not well with High Falls. Monday morning, while peaceful and serene, exposed what DuPont Waterfalls have unfortunately become….a large trash can. On several rocks scattered all around the base, weekend pigs left their garbage just laying on the rocks. How lazy, and disrespectful to nature and those that appreciate it. These are the people that need to stay at a swimming pool with trash cans everywhere for them to throw their fast food garbage away. I am just going to stop there……..
On my way back out, I noticed I was just upstream a tad from Triple Falls. While I had to get back to my hotel room and check out still, I couldn’t resist walking downstream and catching a quick peak from the top.
I feel like these may have been the best conditions that I have had for Triple Falls. I was pleased at how the photos came out. It may be just me, but it looks like the forest is trying to reclaim the view of Triple Falls, with only about 1/2 of each one showing. Maybe it was always like that, like I said, it has been awhile since I have visited here. After Triple, I hightailed it out of DuPont……just in time too as big storms were just beginning to build up all around. I probably could have squeezed Hooker Falls in , looking back, but check-out was at 10 am and I still had to go enjoy my complimentary hotel waffle….lol
Here is a short video I took from High Falls, from the top and the from the Base: