The heart of the 10,400-acre DuPont State Recreational Forest in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains is a series of great waterfalls staggering the course of the Little River. Going upstream, they include Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, and—our focus here—Bridal Veil Falls, which drops 120 feet and spans on the order of 800 feet.
It’s quite the looker: a two-tier waterfall heading with a plunge over a ledge and then surging as a lengthy cascade along slanted granite into a rocky plunge pool. Movie buffs, take note: In the 1992 blockbuster Last of the Mohicans, Daniel Day-Lewis delivered his dramatic, “I will find you—no matter how long it takes, no matter how far” line behind that upper freefall plunge before leaping through it, which needless to say is most definitely not recommended.
Besides Mohicans, Bridal Veil Falls also had quite the prominent cameo in 2012’s The Hunger Games. If the cinematic associations are what draw you here, great! But this mighty tumble of the Little River is worth experiencing for its beauty and geologic power alone.
Depending on how far you want to hike, you can reach Bridal Veil Falls by a number of routes coming in from multiple directions, but we’re going to spotlight the northern approach from the High Falls Access Area. It’s slightly longer than the other most direct access from the south via Fawn Lake, but you get to combine Bridal Veil with High Falls itself: a DuPont Forest double-whammy, you might say. It’s quite an easy ramble with some major scenic payoffs.
You’ll begin at the High Falls trailhead by following Buck Forest Road to the postcard-perfect Covered Bridge and High Falls in about a half-mile. High Falls is its own unquestionable stunner: a majestic 125-foot waterfall over a steep and broad granite chute.
From High Falls, you’ll hang a right on Conservation Road to travel south past Lake Dense and Lake Julia. At about 1.75 miles, Conservation Road hits Bridal Veil Falls Road, which you’ll follow to the right (west). In about a half-mile, you’ll come to the observation platform for Bridal Veil Falls, the base of which you can reach via a path leading onward from the platform.
While you bask in the beauty of this dramatic mega-cascade, keep safety foremost in mind: The rocks around here can be slippery and the water powerful.
You’ll return the way you came—once you can tear yourself away from the fluming fabulousness of Bridal Veil, that is.
– You can make a short detour to visit the largest lake in DuPont State Recreational Forest on the High Falls route to Bridal Veil Falls. On the Conservation Road stretch, about 1.3 miles from the trailhead, you’ll cross a spillway bridge marking a small waterfall. Just after this, a spur trail heading left leads to forest-cradled Lake Julia, nearly 100 acres in extent and quite a pretty sight itself.
– If you want to combine all four of the main waterfalls of the Little River in DuPont State Recreational Forest in one longer hike, you’ve got several options, including big there-and-back walks from either the Hooker Falls Access in the north or the Fawn Lake Access in the south. If you’ve got two vehicles at your disposal, you might consider arranging a shuttle so you can hike from Fawn Lake to Hooker Falls, making the roughly 1.2-mile detour to Bridal Veil Falls as you go.