The hike to Triple Falls and High Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest on the Little River is one of the most popular in Western North Carolina. This short hike is family-friendly and the beauty-to-effort ratio is off the charts!
DuPont State Recreational Forest sits a little more than 30 minutes from Brevard, NC and an hour from Asheville and it is home to some amazing waterfalls. Two of the most beautiful are Triple Falls and High Falls.
High Falls cascades in sheets down a rocky face blasting mist into the air and Triple Falls lithely stretches across hundreds of feet of stone before crashing into the river. With only a short hike, you get to experience both of these graceful sibling waterfalls.
Triple Falls and High Falls Hike
Length: 2.5 miles loop Elevation Gain: 500 ft Difficulty: Moderate
Great For: Scenic photography, families, cooling off in the water
Location: Dupont State Recreational Forest
When to Visit: Good all year but best in spring for the strongest waterfall flow.
How We Rate It: 4.5/5, the waterfalls are amazing if a little crowded.
DuPont Recreational Forest is easy enough to get to and there are multiple parking locations.
We have always parked at the Hooker Falls lot and hiked the loop to Triple Falls and High Falls, but you can also park at the High Falls parking lot if you don’t plan on going to the base of Triple Falls. This will cut out the steepest section of the trail.
Before you decide where you are going to park, you may want to check the DuPont website to see if there are any notices about trail conditions, especially after heavy rains. There are restrooms available at both High Falls and Hooker Falls parking lots.
Choosing where to park
If you only care about seeing one of the two waterfalls the parking choice is easy: Hooker Falls Lot for Triple Falls and High Falls Lot for High Falls.
If you want to see both waterfalls or do any additional hiking beyond that, it’s more complicated. Each has an advantages and disadvantages. I’ll cover those the best I can so you can decide for yourself.
The trail descriptions are written started from the Hooker Falls lot, so everything will be reversed if you are starting from the High Falls parking lot.
Hooker Falls Parking Lot
One of the biggest advantages to parking at the Hooker Falls lot is you can easily access Hooker Falls as well as Triple Falls and High Falls. You also have a more direct route to the base of Triple Falls and High Falls via the Riverbend Trail. (More on that in the High Falls section.)
One disadvantage of parking at the Hooker Falls lot is the steep climb up the trail to get to the Triple Falls viewing area and High Falls.
Many trails that gain elevation employ switchbacks to ease the intensity of the climb. This one doesn’t.
You’ll be tired once you reach the top. Coming down may also be a challenge for people that have knee pain.
High Falls Parking Lot
If you want to avoid the steepest sections of this hike, you can park at the High Falls parking lot and skip hiking down to the base of Triple Falls. You will still be able to see High Falls and some view of Triple Falls without the extra steep climb down to the base and back up.
By parking at the High Falls parking lot, you’ll also go right past the covered bridge which is a nice spot to relax for a few minutes.
Hitting the Trail
The trail is very easy to find and very easy to follow, regardless of which lot you parked in.
There are trail boards that provides plenty of information about the hike and are stocked with printed maps you can take. You can also get a detailed pdf of the map from Friends of DuPont Forest, and save some paper.
There are three different places to view Triple Falls along the trail: along a short side trail to the base of the falls, from the overlook on the main trail, and from the viewing platform.
If you parked at Hooker Falls parking lot, the Triple Falls Trail is across a sturdy foot bridge connected to the lot.
There is easy access to the river below the bridge, before you cross, and this is a great spot for both kids and adults to cool off in the water.
The trail briefly winds through the forest before you again reach the Little River.
There is a sign pointing to the right for Triple Falls and High Falls but if you follow the short path along the river’s edge, you can take the spur trail all the way to the base of Triple Falls.
There is space at the base of the waterfall to relax on the wide stone shore.
Not many people make the brief walk over to this view of the waterfall so you can usually have a few moments alone.
If you decide to go to the base be aware of waterfall conditions; it is never safe to climb on wet, slippery rocks so don’t get crazy. The river is fast here and not suitable for swimming.
Continuing toward High Falls, the trail sharply ascends and near the top, there is a great view of Triple Falls.
If you need to stop and catch your breath, this is a great place to do it.
Once you reach the top you can access the viewing area for Triple Falls down a long series of wooden steps or follow the signs for High Falls Loop Trail. The viewing area is a cabled-off area just a few feet from the middle segment of Triple Falls and the view is awesome.
After you climb the stairs you can continue to High Falls Loop Trail.
There are two ways to view High Falls. The first is to stay on the High Falls Loop Trail and see it from the trail overlook.
The second way is to take the Riverbend Trail spur. This short trail will take you along the Little River until you reach the waterfall.
High Falls is wide and wonderful. There are plenty of spots to stop and take in the view once you get close to the falls.
There is a narrow rocky path that will get you all the way up close to the waterfall. Watch your step because some of the rocks sit at a sharp angle and are slippery.
If you follow the trail all the way up to High Falls you can get very close to it. As with all waterfalls, use your best judgment.
On one of our other visits we saw people sliding down a short section of the waterfall into the river. The river was much lower during that visit but I’d still be cautious about sliding down any waterfall.
If you took Riverbend Trail to the lower viewing area of High Falls, you will need to back track to the High Falls Loop. If you’ve had your fill of hiking, you can head back down to the Hooker Falls Parking lot.
Otherwise, you can continue on the High Falls Loop to see the upper overlook as well.
Continuing on the trail will bring you an intersection with Covered Bridge Trail. If you aren’t going to the covered bridge, you can just continue along the High Falls Loop Trail until you intersect with Triple Falls Trail and head back to the Hooker Falls Parking Lot.
The hike up to covered bridge is a bit steep and has less canopy than the rest of the hike, so you’ll be exposed to the sun more.
You can see the water above High Falls from the bridge, but you can’t see the actual waterfall.
The covered bridge is interesting and although the view from the top of the waterfall is less dramatic, the surrounding forest is beautiful.
If you took the spur to covered bridge, you can make your way back down to High Falls Loop and take either direction to Triple Falls Trail.
The Covered Bridge spur is just about halfway along High Falls Loop, so the distance is about the same either way. We prefer going back down near the waterfalls since that’s what we came for.
On your way back down Triple Falls Trail, watch your step. The trail is steep and some of the surfaces have loose rocks.
If you didn’t take the spur trail to the base of Triple Falls before you went up, this is a good opportunity to do so. The view is worth it.
From Hooker Falls lot, you can add on Hooker Falls if you are still feeling up for a little hike.
It’s a short hike to a short wide waterfall and swimming hole. If it’s a weekend or even an especially nice day during the week, be prepared for crowds.
After the hike
One great thing about this trail system and Dupont State Recreational Forest, in general, is how close it is to Brevard, NC. We love going to Brevard because there are so many great hiking options very close to town. While in town, be sure to check out Rocky’s Grill and Soda Shop. They have great food and ice cream as well as a cool gift shop connected to the restaurant.