When we first moved to the Carolinas, this popular DuPont State Forest waterfall hike was our go-to hiking spot. Everyone who came to visit us those first years got to see Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls. It was a great way to show off our new mountainous home state (most of my friends live in the beautiful, but flat, Florida). Plus, who doesn’t love waterfalls, right?
As we spent last weekend in Hendersonville, we decided to revisit this old favorite hike and share our tips for visiting. These waterfalls also make a great day trip from Asheville, as it’s less than an hour south of the city center.
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DuPont’s Most Popular Waterfall Hike
The main hike is approximately four miles. It includes one easy out and back section to Hooker Falls. Then, there’s a short, steep trail to Triple Falls, followed by a moderate graded loop to High Falls.
Though the park rates Triple Falls as a difficult hike, this is only due to the incline, which is quite steep. Most folks who take their time don’t have an issue. If you have hiking sticks, this is a great place to use them.
Several short branch trails get visitors a closer look at the falls. Plus, the main trail links up to several longer trails if you prefer to keep going.
Start at Hooker Falls
Typically, we start at the Triple Falls Parking Area. This is the lowest section of the hike. We prefer to tackle the steep ascent when we have the most energy.
If we are tired or it’s late by the time we get to the top, we loop back down and head home. But, it also gives us the option to continue to other areas of the park if we feel like it.
In summer and nice weekends, the Hooker Falls parking area can fill up fast. Another option is the lot at the High Falls Visitor Center. This means High Falls would be your first stop.
Short Hike to Hooker Falls
It used to be a short 0.3-mile hike along the river to Hooker Falls. With the park’s recent ground stabilization work, it’s now a 0.5-mile trail leading through the forest to Hooker Falls.
You’ll find the trail at the back of the lower parking lot. Follow the trail left at the fork in the road. Except for the slope at the end, the trail is relatively level.
At approximately 15-feet, Hooker Falls is the smallest waterfall on this popular hike at the DuPont State Forest. However, as this area is popular for swimming, it gets very busy in the warmer months.
Steep Trail to Triple Falls
From the lower parking lot, cross the pedestrian bridge. Then, go under the road and follow the trail uphill.
Before the trail starts to get too steep, an obvious branch trail leads out to the river. However, a lot of folks don’t realize you can easily navigate your way along the rocks on the side to reach the bottom of Triple Falls for a closer look.
Random interesting fact: The famous Hunger Games scene of Katniss tracking a wounded Peeta happened here at the base of Triple Falls. Actually, the entire first film was shot in North Carolina.
Don’t try to climb up the cascades to reach the second tier of Triple Falls. Instead, head back to the main trail the way you came.
This section of the main trail gets quite steep. However, about half-way up is a level lookout point where you can get a great view of the full Triple Falls.
Just beyond the lookout point, the trail on the right leads to a picnic area above. A little beyond that, the short but steep trail on the left leads to the mid-section of Triple Falls.
This is a great area to enjoy the falls, but do not try to get in the water. The rocks are treacherously slippery.
The final waterfall on this popular DuPont State Forest hike is the 120-foot High Falls.
Continue following the main trail up. At each fork in the trail, stay left. This will follow the river and terminate at the bottom of High Falls.
Alternatively, after Triple Falls, you can return to the parking lot, move your car and start the High Falls Trail from the top parking area. Keep in mind, if the park is busy, you may not find another parking spot.
If you follow the trails along the river, you’ll naturally reach River Bend Trail and the bottom of High Falls. Return back the way you came but take the first left. This should get you back on the main trail. You’ll want to continue heading up.
Just like Triple Falls, there is a lookout point from the main trail and a picnic area with great views. Just beyond the lookout you’ll find the trail to Covered Bridge, the Visitor Center, and the loop trail back to the Triple Falls parking area.
Covered Bridge Above High Falls
If you have more time, from the High Falls Visitor Center it’s only a short walk along a gravel road to the covered bridge above High Falls.
Beyond the covered bridge you can access longer hikes to Grassy Creek Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
Where to Stay Near DuPont State Forest
Hendersonville and Flat Rock are nice areas to stay in. They are about 20-30 minutes from the DuPont State Forest and this popular waterfall hike.
- We stayed at The Lodge at Flat Rock on our last visit. It was beautiful and clean, with a kitchen. However, the kitchen only had basic supplies, but this may have been due to Covid. If you plan on using the kitchen, it’s worth checking with the hotel on what they supply.
- If you’re looking for a bit of luxury with old world charm, consider Melange Bed & Breakfast. We’ve stayed here in the past and it makes a romantic couple’s weekend.
- Just need a clean room at a good value to rest your dirty boots? We’ve never had an issue with the Holiday Inn Express in Hendersonville SE.
Books on the DuPont State Forest
There’s so much to see in the Dupont State Forest beyond this popular waterfall hike. If you plan on doing some of the longer hikes, or are interested in the history of the area, it’s worth getting a book or trail map.