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A Mountain Biker’s Guide to DuPont State Forest in NC

Learn everything you need to know about mountain biking at DuPont State Forest in western North Carolina including the best trails, route recommendations, and more!

Mountain bike leaning against trail sign at rock slab summit in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina

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After spending several weeks exploring the mountain biking scene around Brevard, North Carolina, DuPont State Forest quickly become one of my favorite places to ride.

Nearby Pisgah, which most people associate with the ‘best’ mountain biking in Brevard, was too much of a sufferfest on the climbs and while North Mills River and Bent Creek were better, still… the climbing! 🥵

But DuPont? It was a perfect mix of everything I love about mountain biking: fast flow, chunky tech, unique terrain, beautiful surroundings, and decent climbs for the downhill reward (very important).

To help you make the most of your time at DuPont, I’ve put together this guide featuring the best trails to hit, a few route recommendations, planning tips, and more.

Let’s go!

Why plan a trip to DuPont State Forest?

DuPont State Forest has a lot going for it when it comes to mountain biking. Riders can expect:

  • Beautiful, lush forest surroundings that make you feel like you’re in a rainforest
  • A great mix of terrain from fast flow to old-school chunk
  • Lots of route options that range from a few miles to 20+ mile days
  • Waterfalls and river crossings

In fact, DuPont’s natural landscapes are so special that DuPont State Forest was the location for several scenes in The Hunger Games and Last Of The Mohicans.

So, basically, you’ll be riding through a movie set!

Forest-lined river in DuPont State forest in North Carolina
DuPont has been the set for several movies including The Hunger Games and Last Of The Mohicans

Important Things to Know

Mountain biking at DuPont State Forest is awesome, but there are a few things to know before hitting the trails:

  • These are shared trails: Hikers and equestrians also use the trails at DuPont. Please be kind and courteous and yield to other trail users.
  • E-bikes are NOT allowed: Please respect this.
  • Trailheads can get busy! If riding on a weekend, expect the trailheads to be very busy. You may not be able to park at the trailhead you originally planned for. Get an early start.
  • Gravel road sections are the norm: Be prepared to do some (or a lot) of your ride on gravel roads. That’s just how it is in this area.
  • Beware of water crossings: Water levels can be high depending on rainfall. Do not attempt to cross rivers when the water levels are high.

Best trails & route recommendations

There is a lot of great riding in DuPont. When writing these guides I try my best to discover the ‘best’ trails and put together the ‘best’ routes. Keep in mind this is highly subjective, but I do try to cater to most mountain bikers.

Below are what I consider to be the top trails and routes in DuPont State Forest.

Photo out over front of mountain bike handlebars onto rock section of singletrack trail in DuPont State Forest in Brevard

DuPont State Forest mountain biking map

8 best trails at DuPont

  • Hilltop: Fast flow through beautiful forest
  • Ridgeline: Super fun fast and flowy downhill. DuPont’s shining star.
  • Hickory Mountain Loop: Bit of a climb, but great downhill in either direction
  • Rocky Ridge: I didn’t love this one, but it’s still a Brevard favorite. I wouldn’t call it a black
  • Reasonover Creek Trail: Awesome backcountry singletrack, not really a black
  • Burnt Mountain: Rocky and rooty technical descent, definitely a black. Ride it clockwise
  • Cedar Rock Trail: One of, if not the, most unique trail at DuPont. Super cool
  • Big Rock Trail: Great, technical downhill. Watch out for hikers
Rock slab mountain bike trail in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina
Cedar Rock Trail is a must!

Route recommendation

1. Mitch’s DuPont Ride

This is a great introduction to DuPont with several options to make it shorter or longer depending on how you’re feeling. You’ll hit DuPont’s most famous trail – Ridgeline – for a sweet finish at the end.

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate
  • Mileage: 12.7 miles
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,424 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Lake Imaging Parking > Jim Branch > Isaac Heath > Locust > Hilltop > Buck Forest Road > Sky Valley Road > Rocky Ridge > Sky Valley Road (briefly) > Ruffed Grouse (briefly) > Rifle Trail > Hickory Mountain Road > Hickory Mountain Loop > Ridgeline

Route notes: This route is pretty straightforward. You will need a GPS track or TrailForks downloaded to your phone for navigation.

Do more: Climb back up and do another lap on Ridgeline!

Do less: Skip Rocky Ridge by taking Shoal Creek Trail, which will connect back into the route at Ruffed Grouse.

Flowy singletrack mountain bike trail through the woods in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina
Enjoy a mix of terrain including some fast flow on ‘Mitch’s DuPont Ride’

Route recommendation

2. DuPont Big Ride

I LOVED this route. However, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. There is a river crossing that is quite slippery and needs to be crossed twice. It may not be passable if there have been heavy rains.

If you want to skip the river crossing or make the whole route a bit more manageable, break the two loops into two different days. See below for more information on how to do this.

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate+
  • Mileage: 14.9 miles
  • Route type: Loop
  • E-bikes? No
  • Elevation gain/loss: 2,094 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

Route directions: Corn Mill Shoals Parking (no cell service) > Corn Mill Shoals Trail > Burnt Mountain Trail (clockwise) > RIVER CROSSING > Shoals Trail > Cart Trail (this is a hike-a-bike. You may want to try the parallel Laurel Ridge, which I haven’t ridden so I don’t know if it’s any better) > Mine Mountain Trail > Reasonover Creek > Camp Summit Road > Airstrip Trail (EASY TO MISS) > Corn Mill Shoals > RIVER CROSSING > Little River > Cedar Rock Trail > Big Rock Trail (or Cedar Rock Trail which is really cool, too)

Route notes: This is definitely more of a rugged, backcountry route with river crossings and a wide variety of terrain. Be prepared for any mechanical and pack lots of snacks.

Skip the river crossing/make it shorter: If the river that connects the west loop with the east loop is too high to cross, I recommend splitting the route into two days.

On the first day, park at Corn Mill Shoals Parking and do the west side of the river. If you want more miles (and climbing) you can add a lap on the Cedar Rock Trail descent, which is super cool.

On another day, do the east side of the route by parking at the Fawn Lake Parking Area and riding the route clockwise.

Mountain bike lying on side on rock slab next to river crossing in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina
This is the river crossing. It is very slippery and may not be crossable after recent rains

Best time to Ride DuPont

DuPont can be ridden year-round depending on the weather. Keep in mind that this area is a temperate rainforest, though, so expect there to be rain any month of the year.

I visited in spring (May) and the temps were perfect in the 60’s and the spring wildflowers were in full bloom. I suspect fall would be a great time to visit, too, for changing fall foliage.

Summer can get really busy in Brevard, so expect to share the trails with hikers and mountain bikers (and get really sweaty!).

Winter temps fall in the 40s – 50s, so if you visit between November and February, be sure to bundle up in cold-weather mountain biking gear.

River with stepping stones across it in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina
Another river crossing on Reasonover Creek Trail – this one has nice stepping stones 🙂

Camping at DuPont State Forest

There is no camping in DuPont, unfortunately. There are a few independent campgrounds outside of DuPont including:

Because this area is close to so many outdoor attractions and recreation, campgrounds typically fill up. I highly recommend making reservations ahead of time.

If you’re looking for free, dispersed camping, head to Pisgah National Forest.

Other outdoor activities at DuPont

DuPont has almost endless opportunities for amazing outdoor recreation. In addition to mountain biking, visitors can also enjoy:

  • Hiking: If you need a day off the bike (or your partner doesn’t ride), the trails at DuPont State Forest are also open to hikers.
  • Waterfall sightseeing: DuPont is home to several beautiful waterfalls including Triple Falls, Grassy Creek Falls, High Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. Some can be visited with a short walk from the parking areas while others are accessed by hiking/biking trails.
  • Horseback riding: Take a guided horseback ride in DuPont State Forest with Rusty Spur Trail Rides.
  • Swimming: DuPont is a great place to take a dip in the warmer summer months. Hooker Falls is a popular spot, but it gets VERY busy on weekends. There are many other swimming holes in DuPont, however, be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty, so swim at your own risk. A number of swimmers have died at waterfalls and swimming holes in this area.
Mountain bike leaning against picnic table in front of lake in DuPont State Forest in North Carolina
There is a nice picnic area or stop for lunch at Lake Julia Dock

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed my time riding at DuPont State Forest. I found it to be the most “approachable” place to mountain bike in the Brevard/Asheville area (mainly because the climbs aren’t so stinking long and hard!).

It’s also absolutely beautiful with lush, temperate rainforest surroundings, tons of waterfalls, and some cool, unique rock features to play on.

If this is your first trip to the area, I recommend starting your two-wheeled explorations at DuPont so you get a feel for the terrain and riding. It only gets harder from here 🙂

Have you explored the mountain biking at DuPont State Forest? What are your favorite trails or routes? What questions do you still have? Leave a comment below!

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