DuPont State Recreational Forest: How to Ride this Carolina Mountain Biking Mecca

Corn Mill Shoals Trail is a great place to mountain bike.
Corn Mill Shoals Trail is a great place to mountain bike. Brad Allen
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Compared to its National Forest neighbors, Nantahala and Pisgah, the DuPont State Recreational Forest looks like a tiny speck of green on the map. This 10,000-acre tract of land is far from insignificant, however. More than 100 miles of multiuse trails and a collection of stunning waterfalls has this park hitting well above its weight for adventure and beauty.

For mountain bikers craving variety, this is the place. Wide logging roads lead to sections of tight, twisty singletrack. Technical, rocky stretches smooth out to flowy descents. And leg-burning inclines through dense forested land open up to expansive views on one of the few slickrock trails in the East.

DuPont’s 100 miles of single and dual track are diced up into short trail segments usually not longer than a mile or two. This allows for an incredible number of ride options, but also requires a little orientation before getting started.

There are several entrances and parking areas at DuPont. The central section of the park is dominated by its famous waterfalls. The Hooker Falls parking lot provides the easiest access to them, so it’s often fairly crowded with hikers and picnickers. But one of the best rides at DuPont begins in the southwest corner at the Corn Mill Shoals parking lot. From here you’ll combine several trails including Corn Mill Shoals, Burnt Mountain (second entrance), Little River, and Cedar Rock (second entrance) to reach the famous slickrock.

You’ll probably need a breather here, and there’s no better place for it: The tree canopy gives way to a textbook Blue Ridge Mountain View. Finish the ride with a technical descent down the Big Rock Trail. This collection of trails includes just about every type of riding available in the park.

For a faster ride with plenty of elevation change, you’ll want to head to the Lake Imaging parking area in the northern area of the forest. This loop, with optional side trails, holds some of the best flow at DuPont and is generally suitable for less skilled riders.

There are several options to create a loop from here, but the most popular heads south on the Lake Imaging forest road and connects to the Hilltop, Locust, and Jim Branch trails. For a shorter ride, turn back here. Or, you can add Buck Forest Road, Hickory Mountain Road, and the classic Ridgeline Trail descent to add a few more fun miles.

If you have the time, take a break to soak your feet in the pool at the bottom of Grassy Creek Falls. Located near the Hilltop Trail, this smooth, granite cascade is an amazing respite for a hot summer ride.

Recommended Pre- and Post-Ride Spots

The views from the trails at DuPont State Forest are spectacular.
    Fourmile Media
The views from the trails at DuPont State Forest are spectacular. Fourmile Media

Conveniently located 20 minutes to the west of DuPont, Brevard offers several stops to gear up for or refuel after a day of bombing trails.

For pre-ride caffeine, hit up Crank Coffee. Sharing space with Sycamore Cycles, the small shop is a convenient stop to grab a cup and talk trails with the knowledgeable staff. Both the bike and coffee shop open early so you can pick up anything you forgot on the way to the trail.

Your post-ride spot is The Hub, where bikes and beer co-mingle. The shop is truly full service offering sales, rentals, repair, and a small but well curated collection of craft taps. You’ll often find some good deals on used bikes at The Hub as well.

Of course, if you’re into mountain bikes and beer, you really can’t pass up a chance to visit the ultra low-key Oskar Blues Brewery. The Colorado-based brewer has deep roots within the local mountain biking community, becoming a staple in the area since opening their N.C. location in 2012. With a food truck stationed outside the brewery most days, you can indulge in both beer and grub.

If you’re heading into downtown Brevard (and it’s worth doing if you have time), The Square Root is the place for a well-rounded, farm-to-fork food experience. Don’t be intimidated by the artfully presented dishes; there’s a welcoming, unpretentious vibe—and the outdoor tables are an ideal spot for a meal after a dusty ride.

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