#9 of 15 Asheville Hikes

DuPont Forest Waterfalls Hike

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DuPont State Forest Waterfalls Hike — Three Waterfalls for the Price of One
Local Expert's Rating:
5.0 / 5
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The Bottom Line:

The DuPont State Forest Waterfalls Hike offers five different views of three spectacular waterfalls, plus swimming and picnicking opportunities, in a jaunt that's less than 5 miles.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

The DuPont Forest Waterfalls Hike is a 4.5-mile journey that visits no fewer than three gorgeous waterfalls. This hike is moderately difficult and has an elevation gain of about 120 feet. It’s perfect for families, outdoorsy types, and anyone else who appreciates natural beauty.

Begin at the High Falls trailhead off Stanton Road, close to the DuPont State Forest visitor center. Head east on a path of crushed white gravel. You’ll cross a small bridge, cut past DuPont’s Covered Bridge Trail, then begin your descent toward the High Falls overlook. It offers a tremendous view of the towering waterfall and the covered bridge across the top.

Return to the trail and resume your descent. You’ll reach the banks of the Little River in about a fifth of a mile. Take a right on River Bend Trail to reach the base of High Falls. This aptly named waterfall is a single-drop cascade-type. It’s the highest waterfall in the entire park, coming in at a vertigo-inducing 150 feet. Avoid the slippery rocks near the base — they can be quite dangerous.

Once you’ve taken in the wonderment known as High Falls, double back along River Bend Trail to follow the river downstream and rejoin High Falls Trail. At about the 1.75-mile mark, you’ll reach Triple Falls Trail where you’ll turn right. In about a 10th of a mile, the trail turns right again and meets a staircase that will take you to an overlook where you can behold the top two tiers of lovely Triple Falls.

This waterfall consists of three total cascades that fall 120 feet to the plunge pool below. By retracing your steps back to Triple Falls Trail, you can climb the stairs and turn right. There’s a short spur that leads to Lower Triple Falls and the base of the bottom tier.

What you see at the bottom of Triple Falls may seem eerily familiar. If you’re a movie buff, perhaps you recognize the scene from “The Hunger Games.” When Peeta is injured during the Games, Katniss tracks him to this very spot. Don’t bother looking for the cave they used as a hideout just afterward, though — that scene was shot somewhere else.

Once you ward off those pesky tracker jackers, double back to Triple Falls Trail and head downriver to where the Little River quietly meanders between rocky, grassy banks. This tranquil scene is quite a contrast to the thundering water you’ve observed earlier. At the 2.5-mile mark, you’ll cut underneath one bridge and over another.

Hang a left on Hooker Falls Trail, where you’ll soon get a glimpse of the waterfall from a riverside outlook. About another 10th of a mile, you’ll reach the base of the falls. Hooker Falls is a symmetrical waterfall that falls over a 12-foot ledge and into a deep pool. This peaceful location features grassy outcrops of rock that are excellent spots to relax and spread a picnic. It’s also a wildly popular place for swimming. Expect some crowds on the weekend, especially when temperatures rise.

Once you’ve cooled off and had a bite to eat, head back to the trailhead. The return trip is almost all uphill, but your rest at Hooker Falls should have you well-prepared. You’ll enjoy several final views of the waterfalls as you trek back to the High Falls trailhead where you began.

Insider Tips:

  • You can take the hike in reverse by starting at the Hooker Falls Access Area parking lot. You’ll get all the strenuous work out of the way first, ensuring an easier return trip. Another bonus is that the falls get more spectacular as you progress, with High Falls as the finale.
  • If you just want to take a dip or have lunch somewhere beautiful, a solo hike to Hooker Falls is exceptionally easy and the round-trip is only three-fifths of a mile.