Preserving the Past for the Future in DuPont State Forest

DuPont State Foreset is a culmination of three land acquisitions.
Hooker Falls, DuPont State Forest.

Even before the organization was established 20 years ago, the Friends of DuPont Forest witnessed not only the physical growth of the serene landscape, but also the growing emotional connection among all who happily disappeared into its depths.

“Where we are today remains a testament to those citizens back then who made a huge change. This land was saved for everyone to enjoy—it’s really inspiring,” said Sara Landry, executive director of the Friends of DuPont Forest.

Made up of 10,300 acres in Henderson and Transylvania counties, DuPont is filled with awe-inspiring waterfalls and mountain vistas, all connected by a seemingly endless trail system. Last year, around a million visitors found themselves in these beloved deep woods.

“And within this vast wilderness is this unique ecosystem of wildlife and plant life, one which also includes rare species of salamanders and fireflies,” Landry said.

DuPont is a culmination of three land acquisitions. From 1995 to 2000, several government and nonprofit entities worked tirelessly together to debate, construct, and ultimately create what the forest is today: something forever protected and cherished.

“We are proponents of being good stewards of DuPont and teaching our community how to take care of these public lands,” Landry said.

A multi-use recreational forest, it’s open to hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, horse riders, and an array of other outdoor activities. In recent years, DuPont has become a beehive for mountain biking, attracting enthusiasts and renowned professionals from all over the globe who continually seek out its unique and challenging terrain.

“With the increasing popularity of the trails here, our focus right now is finding and implementing new ways to be sustainable,” Landry said. “We want to ensure everyone is able to use and appreciate the forest, but also make sure the trails remain pristine.”

That trail maintenance is made possible by the hundreds of volunteers who rally around the Friends of DuPont Forest throughout the year. Between the trail clean up days and other community events that spread trail awareness, locals and visitors are coming together for the good of the forest.

“It’s all about getting out there and exploring the natural beauty that exists right in our back yard,” Landry said. “And I think that’s what people are looking for who come to Western North Carolina. They want nature. They want adventure. And they just want that opportunity to unplug.”

This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to request your free copy.

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