As part of our quest to check out the many waterfalls of NC, we decided to take a weekend and camp near the forest to save having to drive the two hours multiple times. We recently discovered hipcamp.com which is like an Airbnb for camping spots. Some are private spots of land that literally give you a plot of primitive land to sleep for the night. Others are actually campsite businesses advertising in multiple avenues. The site we came across is like a combo of both. A privately owned camping area with a lodge house that offers a spot of WiFi for the bare necessities, a hot tub, a sink for washing dishes, a coffee maker, a hot shower, bathrooms, and a few more little things. We quickly found out DuPont Forest is very mountain biker-friendly. The name of our campsite would also have been a clue as it was called DuPont Bike Retreat. There were so many nicely traveled roads and pathways as well as fun mountain biking paths with a little more adventurous and challenging routes.
Waking up on Saturday about an hour later than we probably wanted led to skipping breakfast (but never the coffee) and heading up to Bridal Veil Falls. Side note, closer to our home, we also have a Bridal Veil in Highlands but if you’ve ever been there… while a cool little spot… it definitely doesn’t have quite as much to offer as this DuPont version. Getting to it was a labor of love. GPS tried to get us close but, alas, the gravel road was closed to car traffic- bikes and foot traffic only. So we ended up parking at the Fawn Lake access parking, using old-fashioned maps (since you have zero service most everywhere) and found a two-mile combo of gravel pathways that did indeed get to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. What a sight! You can check out the pictures, but I’m telling you… you need to go check it out for yourself. The breadth of the rock face that allows for a long and almost slow fall of a good amount of water is something to behold. It was like Sliding Rock but at least ten times larger. And you couldn’t even see the top from where the water was coming. We found a couple dry patches of rock face to walk up and down. Lee handled it just fine, but slip-McGee here (me) started walking back down, slipping and quickly pattering all at the same time calling for Lee to save me all the way back to where we started. You’ll be happy to know he did in fact grab me and save me from face-planting into the base of the rock. After that, I was a little scared to attempt to walk up to the top on the far left where it looked a little more dry. So I sat at the base and watched others climb down. After a fellow adventurer mentioned that at the top you can walk under the fall, I decided fear wouldn’t hold me back. I carefully made my way up the LEFT side of the rock face. Not a long trek, but so worth it. You can watch a video of the uphill trek as well as what it’s like to walk under the fall. Lee was happy to see me because he knew I would have regretted not getting up there. He might have had to hike up it twice!! After a little exploration, a few pictures and, of course, a slip or two we make our way back down to continue our waterfall journey.
Hooker Falls was next. Hooker Falls is a very popular spot as quickly discovered by all the full parking lots. You’ll most likely have to drive far enough to find legal roadside parking. From the Falls access parking lot, it is a fairly short, easy jaunt, but be prepared for extra walking due to parking. Hooker Falls gives you a cool spot with falls and a nice-sized swimming pool. And the good news for a lot of folks is the hike is not strenuous. This also accounts for why it’s so busy. Come prepared for fun in the sun as well as people. A great spot for the family and kiddos.
We continue on our GPS route to our next spot only to find out it’s another blocked road that we will have to hike instead of drive. After getting some advice from an exiting group of bicyclists, we decided to make the trek to Grassy Falls and with the day winding down, maybe skip Wintergreen for today. We would play it by ear once we finished. Off we go headed toward Grassy Falls which was a 1.5 mile in (3 RT) hike in a bit of a secluded area. We did share the road with a few bicyclists but wouldnt have been surprised to see a little more wildlife in this area. Grassy Falls was another beautiful waterfall similar to Bridal Veil but on a bit smaller scale. We came out to the top of the fall where we enjoyed a splash of cool water on our faces, Lee tried out our Life Straw water filter, and dunked his head in the water in true bicyclist fashion. We noticed there were a few folks further down the fall enjoying another part of the water but we opted to rest a little then continue on our journey. By the time we got back to the Jeep we decided not to push further to Wintergreen. Rain seemed imminent and we had hit just about 10 miles of hiking for the day and were ready to get back to camp and prepare dinner…. A shower was becoming a very enticing prospect as well because Lee was really starting to stink. 🙂 Not me though. I’m a rose.
The evening brought two squeaky clean hikers, a scrumptious dinner of salmon, baked potatoes and grilled veggies. I recommend preparing the potatoes at home then just reheating while camping. Finding just the right spot in the fire for an hour or more to fully cook the potatoes is more than anyone wants and to deal with. Good thing we had raw veggies and ranch dressing to munch on since dinner took two + hours to cook. But as long as we had a nice fire and a great atmosphere, Lee was happy as a clam. Never mind the fact that not one but two quick bit potent thunderstorms rumbled through. We just partly covered the fire to give it a fighting chance, kept our music playing, moved our chairs under the awning and waited it out. The gorgeous full rainbow between showers was a beautiful reminder of the beauty and promises God offers in this life.
Dinner was delicious and after an hour or so of both of us reading by the fire, (remember… no service out here at our camp spot, we decided to call it a night. We knew tomorrow was going to be another fun, albeit shorter, adventure.