I love hiking to waterfalls; the walk through the forest, the rushing sound of the water as you approach, and the anticipation that builds. Will the waterfall be gushing off the top of a mountain? A series that cascade into a plume below? Or something simple but elegant that just is perfect?
When a friend invited me to hike a trail that included three popular waterfalls, I had to say yes! As we grabbed our gear in the parking lot, the sound of the flowing river was so inviting I couldn’t wait to hit the trail.
Our route today would take us by High Falls, Triple Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls all located in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina. According to the map, the mileage for this round trip adventure would only be 3-4 miles so that gave us plenty of time to thoroughly explore.
Starting from the Hooker Falls parking lot, the trail takes an unusual route; up the stairs, across the two lane road (look both ways), and then along the opposite side of the bridge. The road is not busy so the walk is easy, still be careful. Stopping on the bridge is a great place to get a view of the clear river flowing over the rocks.
After crossing the bridge, the trail goes down the stairs and then stays right. If you go under the bridge, the scenery is still beautiful, but it’s not the right direction to find the falls.
The wide trail and crystal clear river make for a beautiful hike through the forest. The river looks so calm you don’t realize the power of the current until you stop and look intently. Toss a stick or leaf in and you’ll easily see just how fast it’s flowing.
Our first stop was Triple Falls and wow, what a view from the trail! The falls start at the top of the mountain and then cascade down three high ledges into the valley. The view from the trail is amazing, but you have to take the boardwalk down to the falls to get the full effect.
As you exit the last stairs, you hear the deafening roar of water and feel the mist on your face. Perfect! I like to venture as close as possible to get that unusual photograph or just because I can. Well waterfalls create wet rocks and it wasn’t long before I was imitating a cartoon character that stepped on a banana peel. All four limbs were flailing in all directions with the hope of somehow not falling. Fortunately, I didn’t fall into the water. I wouldn’t have gone down the falls, but I would’ve been wet and cold.
Further up the trail, we came to another opening and the entire side of the mountain was a steep waterfall. Unlike Triple Falls which cascades over a few ledges, High Falls just falls almost vertically about 125 feet to the bottom. There isn’t a trail down to the base because of the steep incline but at the top there appeared to be a covered bridge. Of course I wanted to know if we could there.
Sure enough, as we followed the trail, we exited in front of that quaint, photogenic bridge that crossed the river just before the falls began.
The bridge was a great lunch spot and perfect place to admire the dichotomy of views. On the forest side of the bridge, it was just a peaceful river that I’d love to kayak on. The water is clear, calm, and the trees are tall.
On the other side of the bridge, the river flows for a short distance and then just disappears. I could see myself kayaking down this river, admiring the covered bridge from below and then suddenly wondering where the river went. By the time I realized it, I’d be in for an unforgettable ride. Note to self; I need to pay more attention when I’m kayaking.
We left the bridge and continued down the dirt road to reach the final destination. Along the way there are trails into the forest, but we saved those for the return trip. A couple of cyclists passed us and I noted that for next time. This is definitely a peaceful place to ride and explore.
A short while later, we took a right turn down another trail and were greeted with the sound of rushing water. As we emerged from the trail, we saw an awesome sight; a sloped granite face, with millions of gallons of water, blasting down in full force.
Thanks to natures design, there is a spot you can sit on a rock and face the falls. You are on an outcropping and the falls go just below that so you’re literally just a few feet away from the rushing power. Myself and others captured some fun photographs there.
Sitting facing the thunderous waves of water is quite thrilling. There’s something magical about being in the wilderness and safely enjoying the beauty of nature’s power.
One last view:
As we walked back, we decided to take one of the side trails that go up a levy. We followed the trail to the top and the view was like a postcard! Stretched before us was a large, glass smooth mountain lake. The crystal clear water revealed the bottom was covered in a layer of leaves which added a unique effect. It was so peaceful, I could see sitting here for hours and letting all my cares melt away. However, the only thing melting at this time was the daylight so it was time to make our way back.
The final portion of the trail crosses the road before the parking lot. As I looked down the two lane road, I had to wonder how many people speed cross the bridge and never know the magnificent beauty that lies beyond. I wonder how many times I’ve been one of those people…..