Category Archives: Dupont State Forest

Outside on Black Friday

Lake Alford
Lake Alford

REI really started something in the popular media. They suggested that we all go outside on Black Friday, the supposedly busiest shopping day of the year. Instead of getting up early to catch a sale at a big box store, America was going to go to a park, a forest, a trail or lake. And to prove that they really meant it, REI said it was going to close its stores for the day and encourage their staff to get out. Just as important, REI was paying its employees and not making a statement on the backs of their workers.

Needless to say, it made national news and created a hashtag #optoutside. Now, the Bernsteins have been doing this for years, with our son and now with our grandkids. In this area, we’ve taken them to Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, the NC Arboretum and Dupont State Forest.

Today, we again took everyone to Dupont. Most of the trails in the forest are very gentle and there’s lots to see. The waterfalls are the main attractions but there are also three lakes.

Isa at Bridal Vei Falls
Isa at Bridal Veil Falls

From the Visitor Center parking lot, we took Conservation Road to Bridal Veil Falls. It’s an outstanding waterfall, from a distance but the girls-Hannah, 12 and Isa, 6 years old- wanted to explore it close and personal.

So I followed Isa closely as she climbed up and down slippery rocks and made decisions on which route to take to get closer and closer.

At Bridal Veil Falls
At Bridal Veil Falls

 

No saying “be careful” or “don’t fall”, as these words are meaningless.

Only by going with children and participating, can you encourage them to have fun outdoors. She got quite close and just as important made it back to land, safely.

We then headed back to Conservation Road and on Three Lakes Trail: Lake Julia, Lake Alford, where we had lunch, and last, Lake Dense.

By then, the rest of the world had #opt outside. We shared the trail with bikers, equestrians and many families. Groups gathered at High Falls; maybe that was the only place they went to but that was OK. They were outside.

Will this trend continue? What did you do today?

 

Dupont State Forest – Disappearing structures

Triple Falls
Triple Falls

Today I went scouting for my Carolina Mountain Club hike with Beth at Dupont State Forest.

It was another beautiful day. The waterfalls were really running because we’ve had so much rain.

Three waterfalls (Triple Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls) and three lakes (Lake Dense, Lake Alford and Lake Julia) will make a great hike.

The recreational forest, located between Hendersonville and Brevard, is known mostly for its awesome waterfalls. But there’s so much more to Dupont.

Old Camp Summit building
Old Camp Summit building

The land has a varied human history and went through many hands before the state obtained it. There are at least two cemeteries and a hundred miles of trail, mostly old roads.

Besides the Dupont company, Camp Summit, a ritzy summer camp, had been in business for twenty years. They built Lake Julia, the largest lake in the current forest. Here’s what we discovered.

Several buildings were left on the property, accessible by an easy bushwhack. I led a couple of hikes that included the buildings.

Old Camp Summit building
Old Camp Summit building

But when we went to find them this time, the Camp Summit buildings were gone. All that was left were rusted I-beams and burnt wood. A few bricks were on the ground.

It was obvious that the NC Forest had burned the structures. I am so glad that I took pictures of the decrepit buildings, while I still could.

When we found a ranger, I asked him what happened to the buildings. He confirmed that the NC Forest Service burned them because they were a safety hazard.

“How did you know?” He asked.

“We walked over there,” I said.

What's left of the Summit buildings
What’s left of the Summit buildings

The ranger thought we had taken a trail which clearly said “No unauthorized entry” but we hadn’t. We went off-trail.

He tried to intimidate me by telling me that that was illegal and I would be fined and maybe even thrown out of the forest.

Well, he was wrong.

There’s nothing in all the rules and regs on the map that says that hikers have to stay on the trail. His behavior was so different and belligerent, compared to National Park Service rangers, who really do want you on the land and try to make you welcome. I could have pulled out a piece of paper and gotten his name, but he probably would have walked away.

Another change.

On the Lake Julian Road, the old clubhouse was removed. The area was just cleared now. No need for a picture of a flat, empty space, like a missing tooth.

 

 

 

Cabin Fever on a Warm Day

Did you have cabin fever this week? If you live anyplace on the East Coast, I don’t have to tell you about the snow, ice and cold weather. But today was scheduled to be a beautiful day in Western North Carolina. High in the 50s and no rain. I was going hiking. But to my dismay, both Carolina Mountain Club hikes were canceled because of poor trail and road conditions. What!@#$!

20150222snowdaydupont003ASo Lenny and I went to Dupont State Forest between Brevard and Hendersonville.  The trails are wide and easy, perfect for a winter day. We didn’t leave until 10 am, so that any ice on the roads would have a chance to melt. But when we got to the Visitor Center entrance, the trail was just a sheet of ice.

The few people we saw were inching on the trail. This wasn’t good. But to my amazement, the Dupont visitor center was open. Two NC Forest Service volunteers were staffing the desk and we inched ourselves toward the building, trying not to slide down.

Dupont Visitor Center
Dupont Visitor Center

The Aleen Steinberg Visitor Center is small but beautiful. The exhibits are well done and so much better than the ones in most NC State Parks. The information panels are national park quality. Right now, the visitor center is only open on weekends but  it will expand its hours in the spring. It was a great 15 minutes or so, talking to the volunteers, but this wasn’t curing my cabin fever.

We drove back and went to Hard Times Road in Bent Creek. By then, it was past noon and the parking area was almost full. We hiked the “loop”, as we call it – about six miles up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, plus the distance to go up to the Arboretum visitor center.

20150222snowdaycmtail 008AYes, the trails had snow but with all the runners, dog walkers and even bikers, they weren’t icy. Slush and mud were almost welcome. We climbed up the Carolina Mountain Trail –  the photo on the right – and followed a lot of footsteps.

This was a luxurious hike, since we had our lunch on the porch of the visitor center at the NC arboretum. Then we climbed up to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

20150222snowday MST010AThe MST climbed straight up from the Parkway. It was icy. I don’t think too many people are hiking the MST seriously, right now. But it’s here, waiting for hikers.

Hang in there. Spring is coming.

So what did you do today?