Sunday, April 26, 2009

DuPont State Forest, North Carolina

What a beautiful day! Our Sunday trek was to the DuPont State Forest in North Carolina. The 10,400 acre DuPont State Forest is located in Henderson and Transylvania Counties between the towns of Hendersonville and Brevard. We had never been to DuPont but had heard how beautiful it is. After today, we will certainly be visiting again. There are miles and miles of hiking, biking and riding trails through out the forest. Maps can be downloaded from the link, along with a difficulty guide for the trails. We parked at the Hooker Falls parking lot, and hiked from there, but there are several access points through out the forest. We visited 3 of the most popular waterfalls, but of course, with over 10,000 acres, only visited a small portion of what DuPont has to offer.

Hooker Falls. If you have seen the movie The Last of the Mohicans, you have seen Hooker Falls. At only 14 feet, what it lacks in height, the width and volume account for, making this a spectacular waterfall.

Next, we traveled upstream to Triple Falls. This is a three level drop totaling about 100 feet. Large shelves of rocks along the Little River make viewing the waterfall easy. This also provides a popular destination for sunbathers and waders. We veered off the main trail, to follow well traveled paths that led us along the river and across the rocks for fabulous views of the falls.

You can see from the size of Mark & Kevin standing in front of the middle portion of the falls, just how impressive this waterfall is. A long section of stairs leads down to the middle portion of the falls.

My partners were intent on climbing to the top of the falls via the rocks along the side, instead of back up the stairs we came down. Not wanting to be outdone, I made sure to go first, knowing they were behind to cushion my fall...just in case. Of note, at no time did we get near the rushing water or wet slippery rocks. I can't say enough about safety when visiting waterfalls.

The view from the top of Triple Falls.

Triple Falls from the viewing area along the main trail. As with Hooker Falls, Triple Falls was also featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans.

Our hike continued along through the forest toward High Falls. Along the way, we were able to enjoy the beauty of the forest. The trails are all well marked and easy to follow.
Appalachian bluet Houstonia serpyllifolia

Beautiful horses, their riders, and their horseback riding dog.

Yellowroot Xanthorhiza simplicissima. These tiny beautiful flowers are easily missed. Yellowroot blooms are primarily green when young and in shaded areas, turning a purple-brown color in the sun and as they mature.

While sitting on rocks along the river, this crayfish decided "toes" might make a nice meal...we thought differently.

Horse sugar
Symplocos tinctoria

Six spotted tiger beetle...I didn't see any spots, but this was one of the most vibrant insects I have ever seen!

High Falls. At 100 ft, this was the tallest of all the falls, and absolutely beautiful. You can see the edge of a covered bridge at the top of the falls (right), and if you look closely at the top left of the falls, you can see the bright red shirt of someone sitting on a rock beside the falls. Unfortunately, I have limited pictures of this waterfall, because there is primarily only one angle to photograph from, looking straight at the waterfall.

Little River. This view is looking up stream from the covered bridge. It is hard to imagine just after this calm river flows under the covered bridge, it plunges 100 feet forming High Falls.

This was a fabulous day of hiking, and the waterfalls were amazing. When we returned to the parking lot, there were so many people visiting they were parking along the sides of the road. While well worth the trip, this is a popular destination. If you are looking for solitude, this is not the place, at least not in warm weather, unless you plan on visiting on a weekday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lee Falls, more wildflower photos

A few more photos from the Lee Falls hike.
Relict Trillium (burgundy blooms)
Yellow Fairybells/ Yellow mandarin (bell shaped pale yellow blooms)
Trillium (burgundy bloom)/ Liverleaf hepatica (white bloom)
Fern, (please let me know if you can identify this fern)
Lousewort/Wood betony (pink tinted blooms, frilly leaves)
May-apple, (not in bloom)
Round-leaf yellow violet
Liverleaf Hepatica (pink tinted)
Giant Chickweed (white blooms)
Common Foamflower (multiple small blooms)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Virginia Hawkins Falls...again 04/12/09

I appologize for not updating the blog last night, but we certainly made the most of a beautiful Easter Day. We took another trek to Virginia Hawkins Falls. With all the recent rain, there was a lot of water, making the falls even more spectacular. It also made the trail a bit slippery in some places! Spring flowers are budding out everywhere, with a few in full bloom, but there are many more to come. I have listed the names of the plants pictured at the end of the blog. I think everyone on the hike would agree words and pictures can't express the beauty of this forest. This waterfall is along the Foothills Trail. If you haven't read about the trail, it is worth checking into. The Foothills Trail is an 80-mile foot trail running along the Blue Ridge Escarpment from Oconee State Park north of Walhalla, SC to Table Rock State Park north of Pickens, SC. A spur trail continues to Caesars Head and Jones Gap State Parks north of Greenville, SC. Everyone on the hike expressed interest in one day hiking the entire trail, at least in sections. One resource I read noted the trail contains so many waterfalls it should have been named the "Waterfall Trail".

Future Hikes: We don't have any hikes planned for the rest of the month, however, April 26th might be a possibility, if anyone is interested. We will certainly plan more Saturday hikes for next month. As always, if there is somewhere you would like to go, let me know, and we will plan a trip!

See you in the woods~

Pictured in this blog:
Vasey's Trillum
Sweet white violet
Appalachian Bluet
Dwarf Iris
Robin's-plantain (fleabane)
Indian cucumber root
Earthstar mushroom
*I try to research each plant pictured for accuracy, if I am not sure of the correct name. If I have labled something incorrectly, please let me know.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lee Falls, Oconee County SC

What a beautiful day! Once again, an unplanned trip turned into a fabulous hiking opportunity. Lee Falls on the Tamassee Creek in Oconee County makes a dramatic 75 ft. drop over a granite cliff, and continues cascading down several more tiers of rock and through huge moss covered bolders. Once voted Oconee County's most scenic waterfall, there is not an official trail to the waterfall. However, we found the "unofficial" trail fairly easy to follow. The trail involved several crossings of Tamassee Creek and the last .2 miles is very rocky, steep and challenging. There were so many unusual and rare wildflowers along the way, it will take me days to edit the pictures. I will add them to the blog as I edit them. Anyone is welcome to accompany us on the "unplanned Sunday trips". We often don't know where we're going until the morning of, and often don't know what type of conditions we will find when we get there...but I will be glad to give you a call, if you're up for a spur of the moment trip.
"Upstate VA Hikers" car stickers are also here, $2 each; anyone wanting one, let me know.
See you in the woods~