Dupont State Recreational Forest
Dupont State Forest is one of the two amazing areas to mountain bike within 15 minutes of downtown Brevard
Dupont State Recreational Forest is a 10,400 acre state run forest just outside of Brevard, NC. It is home to close to 100 miles of trail and forest service roads. The number of trails is impressive, but with many of the trails being less than a mile in length, a map or a local guide is highly recommended. It is easy to spend a few days on the mountain bike in Dupont without re-riding any trails! However, some of our favorites like Ridgeline and Big Rock may tempt you into doing some extra laps.
The riding is not very technical in nature (especially when compared with Pisgah), but it is amazingly fun! Fast and flowy is the name of the game. High speed bermed turns are all over the place. There are also a few trails that take you across giant slabs of East Coast slickrock!
Like anywhere around here, you have to climb some to get to the fun stuff. Fortunately there isn’t much in the way of hike a bike, but you will certainly earn yourself a post ride beer from all the elevation gain (typically 100-125 ft/mile). The climbs are typically all less than 10 minutes long, so you never have to suffer too long.
Dupont is a relatively young state forest with an interesting history. The original 7600 acres was acquired from the Dupont Corporation in 1996, with several additional tracts being added by the year 2000. The 2200 acre tract in the middle of the forest that contains many of the iconic waterfalls was purchased by the state when Governor Jim Hunt invoked his power of eminent domain. This action saved the area from a real estate developer who had plans to turn the land into a high end gated community. This action ensured access for everyone to come out and enjoy the unique and beautiful forest.
There is a 476 acre section in the middle of the forest known as the “donut hole”. This was the actual site of the old Dupont manufacturing plant. Operations ceased there in 2002, and the infrastructure was removed by 2006. It will be several more years before the donut hole is open to the public. It is undergoing extensive environmental cleanup to ensure a safe environment for everyone to enjoy.
What To Expect
Dupont State Forest is an amazing place not only because of its natural beauty, but also because of the intricate network of trails that make for an amazing mountain bike destination. There are no fees to use the forest, but donations can be made at most of the parking areas. Trailheads have portable toilets, and the visitor center has a permanent bathroom.
There are numerous trailheads that provide entry into the forest, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. The lots are all gravel with plenty of room. The parking lots can get a little crowded during the summer time, but once you get out on the trails, crowds are not a problem at all! One of the benefits of over 100 miles of trail is that it spreads everyone out really well.
There are numerous lakes in the forest that are great for swimming, stand up paddle boarding, or just soaking up the sun after a ride. Fawn Lake is the easiest to access and attracts the most people for sure. Lake Julia is amazing and worth the pedal (or hike).
The forest hours are 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM year round. Bring a headlight and watch sunset from Big Rock and then cruise back down to the car. Or get there early in the summertime to beat the heat and the crowds.
Dupont really has great mountain biking weather pretty much year round. The forest handles rain well and the trails dry quickly. This is important because it does rain a good bit. The fall and winter tend to be the driest seasons. Winter time is great with dry days and temperatures getting above freezing most of the time with only an occasional snow. Summer can have the typical sudden showers in the afternoon, but they rarely hang around for too long.
Be prepared in the summer with plenty of water. It can be 85+ degrees, with no shortage of climbing, so you will sweat a lot! There is no water at most of the trailheads so come prepared. But with plenty of creeks and lakes, it’s not hard to find somewhere to cool off once you are done riding.
Fall is an amazing time in the forest. The colors are simply stunning. The air is cooler and there is typically less rain, making for perfect conditions to get in some really long rides. It is probably my favorite time of year to be out in the woods.
There are a lot of really great trails in the forest. And honestly anywhere you ride will be great. But here are a few of my personal favorites:
Ridgeline - This is by far the most popular trail in the forest, and for good reason! It is a fast flowy downhill trail that has endless rollers and berms that weave in and out of the trees. I honestly have never seen so many smiles at the bottom of any trail I’ve ridden. It is fun for all levels of riders, including kids. Just make sure to control your speed and don’t have too much fun. Like all the trails in the forest it is multi use and you will encounter hikers and people on horseback, so pay attention and yield accordingly.
Big Rock - This is an aptly named trail… It’s basically riding down a giant rock! There are amazing views from the top and a fast, rowdy, and moderately technical downhill, what more could you want from a trail? The climb up is a bit steep, but totally worth it.
Hickory Mountain Loop - This is a great loop ridden in either direction. The loop features steady climbing with some rocks and roots throughout, and then a fast downhill with a few turns that can sneak up on you, so pay attention!
The trick is figuring out how to loop everything together to really get the most out of your ride (without excessive climbing, unless you are into that sort of thing). We can definitely help out to make sure everyone in your group has a fun time. There is essentially an infinite number of ways to connect all the trails in the forest together, so let us do the navigating for you!