January 14, 2018

DuPont State Recreational Forest

  • 4.63 miles
  • 3:14 duration
  • 199 elevation gain
  • 8 active geocaches found
  • 1 archived geocache found

The DuPont State Recreational Forest is located in Western North Carolina. It is part of Transylvania County, land of waterfalls. I was invited to join a group of geocachers for a hike here to see some of the beautiful waterfalls and find some geocaches.

This was another cold day hike. When we arrived at the parking area at around 10:30 am, my truck’s thermometer read 12º. Fortunately, we are a hearty bunch.

Today’s group of hikers included our leader wncsteph (Stephanie), tncorgi (Mary), Lob the Huntsman (Ray), tigercash (James), tazclimber (Tom), cactuslover (Martha) and Boootz (Marcia). We also had two canine cachers with us, Radar and Mazie.

We met up at the Visitor Center for DuPont Forest. Park employees joined us as we walked to the entrance gate to search for a geocache hidden there. Before starting our hike, we moved some of our vehicles to the parking lot near Hooker Falls so that we could do a through hike. We then began our journey at the parking area for High Falls and the Visitor Center.

Before the state of North Carolina obtained this property in the late 1990’s, a real estate developer was planning a residential housing development here. He built some great gravel roads which we followed for much of our trip. Volunteers have maintained these roads and the trails and have built pedestrian bridges.

This forest was used as a filming location for many scenes in the movie Last of the Mohicans, and Stephanie pointed these out during our hike. Some of the scenes in the movie The Hunger Games were also filmed here.

There was an amazing number of people visiting the forest considering the cold weather. I understand that in summer the months this number multiplies.

Early in our hike, we realized that we were missing two members of our group. When they caught up with us, Ray was carrying a geocaching container that he had spotted in the creek as we crossed the bridge. It takes real skill to find a cache without coordinates or a hint to follow! Since there were no other active caches hidden in the immediate area, we assume that this was an archived cache.

That cache container came in handy when we stopped at the next cache site. The container there was broken and leaky, so Ray swapped out containers and added a fresh, dry log sheet.

We found our third cache without any problems, but it was frozen in place inside the hollow log where it was hiding. I persuaded it to come out and play by sticking my hiking stick in from the back side and ram-rodding it. You have to get creative when caching in freezing weather.

Our fourth find of the day was hidden in an area that showed signs of a recent forest fire. We found a melted blob that had once been a plastic jar. Marcia broke it apart and inside we found a couple of plastic coins, a melted Lego person head, a small metal pin, the remains of a mechanical pencil, and a remarkably intact log sheet. We did not have any replacement containers with us, but Ray provided a plastic bag to put everything in.

Close to this cache was a covered bridge that was built across Little River by the developer who had the property before the state purchased it. From it, we could see the top of High Falls. Stephanie told us that recently a couple was arrested for climbing out on the rocks at the top of the falls so that he could propose, despite the fences and signs warning of the danger involved. What a way to start an engagement. We joked that they will really have a story to tell their grandkids someday.

After checking out the bridge, we followed the trail to a picnic shelter that provides a great view of High Falls. This 125 foot waterfall was very impressive. Due to recent rains and snow melt, they were roaring. When we moved further down the trail, we could see that the trees near the base of the falls were white with ice.

We found three more caches between High Falls and Triple Falls. Once we reached the picnic shelter overlooking Triple Falls, we were ready for some lunch. We ate quickly so that we could get moving again. It was too cold to linger for too long.

Triple Falls is also listed as being 125 feet tall, but unlike High Falls it is not a straight drop. There are three waterfalls, one after another, that total 125 feet.  Like High Falls, Triple Falls was raging. In The Hunger Games, the scene where Katniss finds the injured Peeta lying in the mud, disguised so that he is barely visible, was filmed near the bottom of these falls.

We found one more geocache before continuing down the trail. This one had been hidden by our hiking companion, Tom.

The next section of trail was the roughest we encountered. The road was very steep and rugged, and I was very glad we were going down it rather than up. Another geocache was hidden down by the river along this stretch of the route, but we did not see a good path down to it. At the bottom of the hill, there was a path leading along the river back toward the cache, so some of us attempted to follow it. Most of us turned back when the path led us too close to the raging river, but Tom continued on. When he finally rejoined the group, he reported that he had made it all the way to the cache site, but could not find the cache. We decided to leave it for another day when the water was not so high.

We continued down the trail, under the road that we had taken driving into the forest, and crossed another pedestrian bridge near the parking lot where we had left cars for our shuttle. But first, we continued following the river another 1/4 mile to Hooker Falls.

This waterfall is the smallest along our route at only 12 feet high, but is a very pretty falls. Just below it is a nice beach that is a popular swimming spot in summer months. In The Last of the Mohicans, the scene where they go over a waterfall in a canoe was filmed here.

After returning to our vehicles, Tom and Martha said their goodbyes. The rest of the group traveled by caravan to find some additional caches in the area, including an EarthCache at the North Carolina/South Carolina border. We also visited Looking Glass Falls, and found a travel bug hotel nearby. We were unable to log the EarthCache there or the traditional cache at the base of the falls. The spray from the falls covered the steps with ice, and we did not want to try to navigate them to the base.

Mary and I enjoyed a delicious meal at Hawg Wild in Brevard before making the drive back home. I delivered her back to her house 11 hours after picking her up, finishing off another great day of enjoying God’s nature.

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