While Dupont is better know for its waterfalls, rivers, and general H2O content, it is also home to the only rock quarry in the area that is both open for public exploration and not filled with water. The commercial Vulcan quarry down the road may churn out truck after truck of gravel and granite, but this unregarded little blasting site is generally only used by the park service and is thus a quiet field of boulders and man made cliffs on the weekend, all ripe for goat exploration.
Location: Dupont State Forest near Hendersonville, NC
Is it goat approved? Yep. They do llamas and they do horses, so they do goats.
How you get there: The parking area to start from is off Cascade Lake Road, at GPS coordinates 35.172825, -82.638965. This parking area is very popular with mountain bikers, who have in recent years grown astronomically in number. So come early to make sure you get a parking spot and be ready to interact with the off leash trail dogs that the bikers like to bring.
Time for hike: 4.4 miles, but if you cross at the Corn Mill Shoals river crossing, Corn Mill Shoals Trail can be taken to Bridal Veil Falls for a total of 7.5 miles round trip, (which I have done before on horseback and on foot – it’s an easy ride/hike). This is mostly an out and back hike with a minor loop.
Best season to do this hike: Any day that the river won’t be at flood stage. Dupont doesn’t get super hot in the summer or insanely cold in the winter, but as a state park known for its water features water crossings are common and may be impossible when the river’s up
Trails to Take
Start off in the parking lot. Walk down Cascade Lake Road headed south. This takes you to Wilkie Trail, (#83) (which sometimes isn’t well marked, but you will see where the trail goes off into the woods). This a mountain biker style trail, so it winds up through the woods in a series of curves.
This trail dead ends into Micajah Trail, where you want to turn right. Continue until Micajah Trail (#48) dead ends into the obviously named Rock Quarry Road (#62), then go left up hill. The trail will take you into the quarry itself.
Rather than continue to follow the trail you can spend a more interesting time exploring the quarry. While much of the original debris on the quarry floor has been cleared away compared with how the quarry looked even 7 years ago, (or how it looked when I first saw it over a decade ago), there’s still plenty to play on. The walls of the quarry are climbable without ropes or climbing gear in several places, though it requires quite a bit of skill, (my ninja of a husband can make it to the top but I’m more of a ground based human).
Anyway, once you’re done enjoying the quarry take Rock Quarry Road back out to Cascade Lake Road. Since the hike into the quarry is so short and let’s face it, if you drove all the way out to Dupont you probably want to make a day of it, cross the road and walk south a short ways to meet up with Twixt Trail (#80). This will take you down into the woods.
Continue in the direction you are heading and merge onto Longside Trail (#47), followed by turning left onto Corn Mill Shoals Trail (#19). Stay on Corn Mill Shoals. You will pass several trails heading off Corn Mill Shoals, and eventually reach the ford over the Little River.
After crossing the ford, just continue on Corn Mill Shoals. It will eventually take you out to Bridal Veil Falls, which is a waterfall near the horse barn and the center of the Dupont property. You can walk to the top of the falls on the rock face when the water is low enough to leave dry rock. There is a small falls at the top, though the main cascade down the rock face seems to the source of the fall’s name. Once done here, you can turn around and take Corn Mill Shoals all the way back to the parking area, (it dead ends into Cascade Lake Road right across from the parking lot).
- If its been raining the ford at the Little River will not be doable. Watched a mountain biker try to cross at flood stage once…and he fell down, lost his bike down the river, and had to go on a trek to find it. While a bike might be salvageable after drowning, a goat is not.
- Get to the parking area early. It is very small, and very popular with mountain bikers. Though, come to think of it, what isn’t popular with mountain bikers around Dupont?
- It is advisable to not plan on having lunch at the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall as it can be fairly popular, (though not nearly on the scale of popularity as the larger falls in the park).
- Stay out of the pools of water on the rock face at Bridal Veil Falls. There are sometimes thriving colonies of tadpoles and salamanders here that would prefer not to be trampled.
- Watch out for wet rock at the ford and at the falls. I once helped out during a waterfall tour at Bridal Veil Falls. An older guy and his wife were taking pictures of the falls nearby while I talked about the park history, etc. The man stepped back onto some wet rock, not running with water, but merely damp. He fell like he’d stepped on black ice and hit his head so hard he blacked out, ended up bleeding all over the rock, and had to have emergency services and me carrying him back to the parking area. He ended up being okay, but the moral of the story is trust no rock surface that is wet in appearance to not be slicker than goat boogers on ice. If in doubt, coat your boot soles with sand before trying to cross.
- Lots of mountain laurel and rhododendron on this hike. Make sure the goat keeps it out of his mouth so he doesn’t end the trip poisoned!
- Corn Mill Shoals can be a major thru fare for hikers and other trail users in the forest. However, it doesn’t get a ton of use if the ford is too under water to cross…so be suspicious if you meet no one during the whole trip down to the ford. It may be too high to go over.
In Sum: If Monty Python used coconuts to mimic the sound of horse hooves, what item of produce would he use to mimic the treading of goats?