Dupont State Forest finally gets a visitor center

dupwinter.jpgI’m back in Western North Carolina only to find out that I missed the dedication of the new visitor center at Dupont State Forest. But here’s the scoop.

DuPont State Recreational Forest reopens the Hooker Falls area on July 1 along with the dedication of a new visitors center and the Hooker Falls pedestrian bridge over the Little River.

The visitors center is a first for the 10,400-acre forest. DuPont State Forest became a “state recreational forest” in 2011 and a new plan to manage natural communities, wildlife habitat and recreation in the forest was created.

DuPont, which straddles the Henderson and Transylvania county border, features four major waterfalls on Little River and five lakes. It has more than 80 miles of roads and trails available for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. Seasonal fishing and hunting are also allowed in the forest.

Hooker Falls and the Hooker Falls Access Area have been closed this month for construction of the trail bridge. The 120-foot bridge will improve safety by allowing visitors to reach Triple Falls without walking along the highway or crossing the highway bridge, the state Forest Service says. There’s also a new parking lot near the bridge.

The Aleen Steinberg Welcome Center at the High Falls Access Area will serve as a central location for educating the public about the forest’s history while stressing the need for safety around waterfalls in the forest, the North Carolina Forest Service says.

Steinberg is a local conservationist who was instrumental in the state obtaining the forest.

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