091 – Wintergreen Falls (DuPont)

Accessibility – Moderate

Height – 22′

Distance – 2.95 miles (out and back)

Beauty – 9

Photo rating – 8

Solitude – 8

GPS Info: LAT 35.1980 LONG -82.5835

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Wintergreen Falls is one of the many waterfalls in DuPont State Forest but unlike High Falls and Triple Falls, Wintergreen Falls isn’t normally overrun with people. I made two visits in 2015, one in July and one in October. On both I had the place to myself. On my July visit I spent more than an hour enjoying the kind of tranquility so seldom found at DuPont. The hike is easy enough but I rate it as moderate since it is pushing on three miles out and back. The hike is along gravel roads with the exception of one shortcut early on and the final segment to the falls. The hike, the peacefulness and the overall setting make this one of my top 10 waterfalls in the area. The entirety of my top 10 list can he found here.

To get to Wintergreen Falls take Crab Creek Road off of US64 between Brevard and Hendersonville. If you’re coming from Brevard you’ll be making a right, from Hendersonville a left. Proceed down Crab Creek Rd 4.2 miles and make a right onto DuPont Road. After 0.7 of a mile, make a left onto Sky Valley Road. Follow Sky Valley starts out paved but changes to gravel. You will stay on it a total of 1.5 miles to the Guion Farm parking area on the right. This large lot primarily used for equestrian purposes so in the warmer months there will be a lot of horse trailers.

The hike will begin on the Tarkiln Branch Trail. The trailhead is in the back left corner of the lot when viewed from the entrance. There is a kiosk close to the start of the trail. The trail begins across the open field but soon enters the woods following a gravel road. It will turn to the right as it follows the undulations of the land. Just over a half a mile from the start the trail will split. The road will wind to the right while a narrower trail will continue straight. There are two boulders marking the entrance to the trail. The trail isn’t marked. You can go either way. The road goes out and around a ridge while the trail goes up and over. Following the road is the longer way but it is an easier hike. I took the road on my first hike in. I used the shortcut on the way back. My second visit was exclusively on the trail.

The trail rejoins the road on the far side of the ridge as it begins down a lengthy grade. Approximately 0.3 of a mile the road intersects the Wintergreen Trail. Make the left onto this road and follow the Wintergreen Falls Trail. The Sandy Creek Trail intersects and branches to the right but remain on the Wintergreen Falls Trail. The trail will narrow near an open area where riders hitch their horses. The last segment is a short narrow trail to the falls. When you come to the huge boulders on the right, strike inland away from the creek and climb up onto the rocks to get to the upper section of the falls. You can view the falls from the boulders downstream but the view isn’t as nice.

There is a huge collection pool at the base of the falls that is ideal for a dip on a hot July day. The waterfall is about 20 feet high and the water comes down the nearly vertical rock face. A prominence on the right side forces the water to the left, adding to the view.

The hike is kid friendly, like everything in DuPont, although you may hear some moaning on the one uphill segment on the return hike. You can shoot this one from under the trees directly in front of the falls (behind the log) or from the boulders downstream. There is a large flat stone expanse to the right of the falls but on both of my visits the sun made shooting from this spot next to impossible, although it was a great place to lay out after a swim.

Wintergreen Falls from across the pool – July 2015
The log and the chair stone at Wintergreen Falls – July 2015
Wintergreen Falls from the stone expanse – July 2015
Fall color at Wintergreen Falls – October 2015
The chair stone at Wintergreen Falls – October 2015