Triple Falls and High Falls, NC – The Waterfall Trek Gets A Bit Easier
In Part 1 – Linville Falls, NC, I talked about my trek down the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina to shoot waterfalls, stopping first at Linville Falls. As mentioned, I have a bit of trouble walking distances and find uphill and downhill grades a challenge. The trek to the Chimney View was quite a bit more strenuous that I had anticipated. After continuing down the Parkway doing a bit of sightseeing, I stopped in Asheville for the night to regroup and plan the next day’s waterfall trek.
Both the guide to Hiking Waterfalls in North Carolina, by Melissa Watson, and Kevin Adams’ North Carolina Waterfalls – A hiking and Photography Guide, suggested that the Brevard area southwest of Asheville had some great easy access waterfall locations. I decided to head to the DuPont State Forest to shoot Triple Falls (seen in the Hunger Games) and High Falls.
What most attracted me to these falls was not just their beauty, but their accessibility for the aging photographer. If you are a visitor with disabilities, you can obtain a permit to enter the gate at the High Falls access area on Staton Road and drive to High Falls, Triple Falls and the covered bridge. After my too strenuous Linville Falls adventure, the idea of driving to a waterfall, instead of hiking miles of forest road, was very appealing.
- A vehicle permit must be requested 48 hours in advance of your planned visit.
- Permits are only available Wednesday through Sunday between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- To schedule a visit, call the Forest Supervisor’s office at (828) 877-6527.
- You will need to provide your name and the date you would like to visit.
- A ranger will meet you at High Falls access area with a vehicle permit and a trail map. Don’t be late for your scheduled appointment, or no one will be at the gate to open it for you.
- You must display your vehicle pass on the dashboard of your car while driving in the forest.
- You may only drive to the specific locations on the permit.
For the location and directions to DuPont State Forest, see the Getting to DuPont State Forest section at the end of this article.
Easy Rider – The Joy of Driving To A Waterfall
The Hiking Waterfalls in North Carolina guide categorized the hike as Moderate, with a 1.2 mile roundtrip distance to Triple Falls, and a total 4.8 mile roundtrip hike to both Triple and High Falls. Driving to Triple Falls was a somewhat bumpy pleasure. You traverse narrow forest roads (be careful if your vehicle has particularly low clearance) to reach a small turnaround with a picnic table, just above Triple Falls. From there it is a moderately steep trek on the trail down to the Triple Falls overlook (use your trekking poles!!). Fortunately, you’ll be hiking for less than 200 yards down to the overlook. Going down is easy, coming back up loaded with photo gear is a bit harder. More fortunately, when you arrive back at the turnaround, your vehicle will be waiting for you.
From Triple Falls, you can drive back out to the main forest road and turn left on the road to High Falls. The road is a bit bumpier and steeper (in some spots, you might have to stretch a bit in your seat to see over your hood), ending at a large overlook with a picnic shelter and porta pottys. The view of the falls from the overlook is magnificent. If you are able, you can also walk down a long set of stairs to getting a lower and more intimate view of the falls.
When you’re done, you can stop at the Visitor’s Center just outside the gate, to use the restrooms and chat with the friendly and accommodating staff about other attractions in the area. since it was getting a bit late in the afternoon, the staff suggested I might want to make one more stop to shoot Looking Glass Falls in the nearby Pisgah National Forest.
There is a small roadside pull-off at the falls, which is wheelchair accessible and provides a great view. You can also walk down a stairway to get a more intimate view of the falls. At the end of a long day, I was a bit too tired to negotiate the stairway, and was perfectly content to shoot from the overlook before heading back to Asheville for dinner (more on Asheville dining and lodging in a later post). Using my Nikon 18-300 mm VR zoom lens, it was easy to get a close-up of the falls without having to climb stairs.
My photo gear on this waterfall trek included a Nikon D7000 (now replaced by the D7100), a Nikon 18-300 mm stabilized zoom lens, a Nikon ML-3 wireless remote, and an Induro CT-214 carbon fiber tripod, with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head. All the gear was carried in a light weight Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L Camera Daypack. I also used a pair of Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles to negotiate the steep terrain.
Resources – Books
Resources – Gear
Getting to DuPont State Forest
From Asheville, take I-26 east toward the Asheville Airport. Exit at the Airport (exit 40) and head south on NC-280 for about 16 miles. Turn left onto US -64 (heading east) for about 4 miles. In Penrose, turn right onto Crab Creek Road for about 4 miles to DuPont Road. Turn right on DuPont Road and continue for 3.1 miles.
From Brevard, take US 276 south to Cedar Mountain and turn left on Cascade Lake Road. Continue on Cascade Lake road for 2.5 miles, then turn right on Staton Road/DuPont Road. Continue on Staton Road/DuPont Road for 1.5 miles until you reach the High Falls access area.
From Hendersonville, take US 25 Business (Church Street) south to Kanuga Road. Turn right on Kanuga Road, which becomes Crab Creek Road, and go 11 miles. Turn left on DuPont Road and continue for 3.1 miles.
For internet mapping or turn-by-turn GPS, enter the intersection of Staton Road and Cascade Lake Road. From there, head northeast on Staton Road for 1.5 miles until you reach the High Falls access area.
Getting to Looking Glass Falls
From the intersection of Highways 64, 280 and 276 north near Brevard, drive north on Hwy 276 north for 5.6 miles and pull off in the small paved parking area on the right. If you are coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway, get off on the Highway 276 exit and drive south for 9.2 miles. Looking Glass Falls will be on your left. Be careful pulling into and out of the small parking area into oncoming traffic.
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