Hike to the stunning cascades of Bridal Veil Falls, exploring a covered bridge and a glassy lake nestled deep in the beautiful DuPont State Forest in western NC.
LOCATION:DuPont State Forest near Brevard, NC
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map
It’s one of the most dramatically beautiful waterfalls we’ve visited in the Southeast. Nestled in the waterfall-filled utopia of DuPont State Forest, the Little River meanders below the enormous dome of Cedar Rock Mountain, pooling briefly before beginning the dramatic tumble of Bridal Veil Falls. This enormous waterfall drops in two series, the first in a freefall from an angular ledge, and the second in beautiful, veil-like sheets across an immense arced rock outcrop.
This waterfall was famously featured in the “Last of the Mohicans,” and though it’s a bit of a hike to access, it’s one of our favorite destinations in DuPont’s many beautiful acres. It’s a moderate distance from the park’s most popular falls (Triple Falls, High Falls, and the popular swimming hole at Hooker Falls) – and the distance tends to keep most of the park’s usual waterfall-chasing crowds away. An observation platform and large, blocky rock outcrops below Bridal Veil Falls offer the perfect place to take in the beauty of the falls, snap some Instagram-worthy photos, and relax in the beauty of the forest.
Bridal Veil Falls: the hike
DuPont State Forest features an immense spiderweb of outstanding trails, making many routes to this waterfall possible. This scenic route is our favorite, departing from the park’s headquarters at the High Falls Trailhead (view maps and driving directions), crossing the crest of High Falls over a beautiful covered bridge, following several wide gravel roads through a tall forest, and visiting Lake Julia, the park’s largest lake.
From the High Falls Trailhead, the hike begins following directional signs to Buck Forest Road Trail, following the gravel road eastbound. The hike passes through a forest filled with trickling creeks, twisted-branched mountain laurel, gnarly rhododendron, and the abundant scent of fresh forest air. The hike begins a steady climb, cresting briefly before arcing northeast and dropping to the covered bridge, crossing the bridge just above the crest of the enormous, 120-foot drop of High Falls.
After crossing the covered bridge at just over .5 mile, the hike hangs a right on the gravel Conservation Road, meandering southbound. The hike rolls elevation through a mixed forest of tall hardwoods and fragrant pine. The forest is particularly beautiful in autumn, when the vibrant fall foliage of the hardwoods contrasts brilliantly with the green stands of pine.
Conservation Road crosses a wooden bridge at 1.3 miles, passing over a large creek. To the left, the creek spills over an anglular slab of rock, tumbling in a small waterfall below tall pine. Just after the bridge, a side trail leads to the left, offering a quick detour along the earthen dam bordering Lake Julia. Views from the dam are scenic, stretching over the lake’s often-glassy waters.
The side trail loops back to Conservation Road, and the hike continues following the road to the southeast, reaching the intersection of Bridal Veil Falls Road at 1.75 miles. The hike takes a right, following the road towards its namesake falls, passing a large barn and fenced horse pasture. The road meanders westbound, reaching the wooden platform near the base of the waterfall at 2.25 miles.
From the observation platform, the hike follows a dirt footpath through the forest, descending steadily to the base of the falls. The forest opens suddenly, offering outstanding views of the enormous sheeting tendrils of the Little River as it cascades over the arched rock outcrop.
After soaking up the waterfall’s beauty, this hike doubles back on its outbound route, retracing its path to Conservation Road and Buck Forest Road. The hike crosses the covered bridge and ends at the High Falls Trailhead at just over 4.5 miles, completing the adventure.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
More top hikes in NC’s DuPont State Forest
From the High Falls Trailhead, it’s only a half mile walk (and well worth the short distance) to the upper High Falls viewing area. Follow signs from the trailhead, or turn right on the High Falls Trail after crossing over the covered bridge on the return hike from Bridal Veil Falls. Or plan an epic day of waterfall chasing adventure, and extend the hike by 4.5 miles by following the DuPont State Forest Waterfalls Hike, exploring High Falls, the outstanding triple cascades of Triple Falls, and the wide, spilling tumble of Hooker Falls.
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Free. Check the DuPont State Forest website for hours and closures.
35.191767, -82.621650 // N35 11.506 W82 37.299