Visiting North Carolina's DuPont State Forest - Lewis N. Clark
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Visiting North Carolina's DuPont State Forest

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The DuPont State Forest is a great system of trails for hikers, swimmers, bird watchers, bikers, and more. It’s about an hour’s drive from Asheville, North Carolina, and a lot of the terrain is rocky so I can’t stress enough that you’ll want good shoes. There are several waterfalls in the area, all of which are worth seeing.

If you’re a Hunger Games fan, you’ll recognize some of the scenery from the first movie when Katniss is in the arena. Its versatility and natural beauty seem to have made it an ideal location for filming, and you can even take Hunger Games-inspired tours where you’ll be given archery lessons, foods typical of the districts, and of course, a visit to DuPont.

Hooker Falls is the easiest waterfall to get to, being only a few minutes’ walk from the parking lot, and is where most people swim in the summer. Even though the rocks look very slick, many people still choose to go swimming. It was too cold to go while we were there, but my foot did get a little taste of the water when I accidentally slipped off one of the rocks. (Told you they were slick!)

One thing I wish I had put on was sunscreen. Even though it was just the beginning of spring, and we were only out there for half a day, the top of my head and the back of my neck were sunburned for several days afterwards. There were also some insects but it was nothing too extreme (although perhaps I’m a little skewed in my thinking because Minnesota’s unofficial state bird is the mosquito).

Triple Waterfalls requires a little bit more hiking, but there are some great places to take pictures, and this area reminded me the most of Hunger Games (especially when Katniss finds Peeta along the riverbank). It’s a good place fish as well.

Personally, we like to pack lightly but make sure we're also bringing along the essentials, so the duffel bag was perfect for our day trip. Although I wouldn’t recommend stuffing it  this full, ours carried two light jackets, a water bottle, two phones, a camera, two pairs of sunglasses (in their cases), and three snacks. My husband and I switched off due to the heavier load, but the strap held up well and the fact that it managed to expand from a small ditty bag to a duffel bag capable of carrying that much stuff says something in and of itself. Certainly it was good for our hike through the forest.

High Falls is the furthest to get to but is certainly the most stunning, and (if you’re adventurous) you can climb on the large jagged rocks to get closer and closer to the falls. We even saw some people sunbathing on the rocks. The light mist is a welcome relief from all the sweating you’ll do following the little paths to get there.

We saw a blue-tailed salamander, along with several other kinds of salamanders, climbing over an old chimney-type structure made out of stone nearby. They’re really quick but worth a look if you can catch one!

The trails on the way back are mostly downhill and full of small rocks, so unless you work out your calves regularly, they will be sore, so make sure you wear that good pair of shoes!

If you’re hungry after your hike or swim, Sora Japanese is a popular place in nearby Brevard. Their lunch special lasts until 3pm, and you will get a main entree, rice, soup or salad, pork dumplings, a spring roll, sesame bean sprouts, and a side of tender beef – all for under $10! You might think the quality would suffer for that kind of price, but it was actually very good. It's pretty casual and we didn’t feel too out of place in our workout clothes.

All in all, DuPont State Forest was a fun getaway that allows individuals to go at their own pace and as far as they would like. You can participate in lots of different outdoor activities, making it a place that offers something for everyone.