Hiking Trail Review
for 
 Big Rock Trail
in
DuPont State Forest

This trail is steep, but the views and the hike across a granite dome makes it worth it.  It isn't really that difficult---I've seen families with small children hike it with no problem.


The views from Big Rock Trail are awesome.

View from the apex of Big Rock Trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender


Big Rock Trail is not accessible from a road.  One end of the trail connects to the Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail and the other end to Cedar Rock Trail.  I am considering Corn Mill Shoals to be the primary access, so it is necessary to provide directions for this trail, too.  I am measuring Corn Mill Shoals Trail from the Corn Mill Shoals Access Area (parking area) to the Big Rock Trail as this is the closest road access to the trail.  The Access Area features ample parking and a kiosk with a rather outdated map.

Directions to Corn Mill Shoals Access Area:

There are three ways to access the parking area: one from U.S. 276 in Cedar Mountain, N.C. and the other two from Crab Creek Road.  The two from Crab Creek Road are DuPont/Staton Road and Cascade Lake Road.  The former should be chosen by those wanting ease and speed; the latter should be chosen if you want to drive a slower gravel road with less ease and more scenery.

From Cedar Mountain, N.C.:  Take U.S. Highway 276.  Turn onto Cascade Lake Road.  Drive 1.8 miles to Corn Mill Shoals Access Area on the left.  There is a large parking area.

DuPont Road from Crab Creek Road:  Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should you be coming from Hendersonville).  Turn onto DuPont Road.  Travel 1.2 miles.  DuPont Road ends and Staton Road begins (i.e. DuPont Road becomes Staton Road—this change is due to the road crossing the county line between Henderson and Transylvania Counties).  At 5.4 miles, turn left onto Cascade Lake Road.  Travel .7 miles to Corn Mill Access Area on the right.  This route is considered the primary route.

Cascade Lake Road from Crab Creek Road:  Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should you be coming from Hendersonville).  Turn onto Cascade Lake Road.  Travel 1.2 miles.  The road turns at a confusing junction with Hart Road.  Hart Road is paved and goes to the right.  Cascade Lake turns to gravel at this point and goes to the left.  Remain on Cascade Lake Road.  Travel 5 miles; this portion of the road is gravelled.  Note the nice waterfall at mile 3.0.  At the 5 mile mark, the road turns into pavement.  Travel .9 miles.  Corn Mill Shoals Access Area is on the right.  This route is the secondary route and takes significantly longer to travel.  It is less than two vehicles wide most of the way, so take your time and be aware.  I would not recommend this route except for the interesting features along the way (and, hey, I just like gravel roads), including Cascade Lake itself, lots of forest, and the waterfall mentioned above.

 


A view of the trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender


Blaze Markings:  unblazed

Length:  approximately .9 miles; exactly 4,542’, which is very close to the .84 miles assigned by the Friends  of DuPont Forest Trail Map (Rev. 2008). Note that 563’ of Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail must be hiked to access the Big Rock Trail.  The trail also ends at Cedar Rock Trail.  Thus, the trail must be hiked as a there and back to the original access point or made a loop by adding a portion of Cedar Rock Trail and Little River Trail back to Corn Mill Shoals (see the trail map or the trails reviews on this website to piece this together).  There and back distance is approximately 1.9 miles, exactly 10,210’.  If a loop is made, the distance varies as there are multiple ways to do this, but it would be longer than the there and back distance. 

Difficulty:  Difficult; due to significant elevation change as well as actual distance. 

I hiked this trail in July with my friend A. Scott Lavender.  We hiked Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail to the Big Rock Trail.  The trail review is, therefore, broken up into two sections:  the relevant portion of the Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail and the entire Big Rock Trail.  The trail is an old roadbed in places, though this is occasionally not obvious due to significant reclamation by the forest.  There is significant elevation change, and a large portion of the trail is rock face.  There are some nice views here, including a distant view of the perennially popular Looking Glass Rock in Pisgah National Forest. 

As is typical with DuPont, there is lots of rock and lots of laurel bush (Rhododendron maximum).  There are many berry bushes, too, including large areas of buckberries (a subtype of blueberry), traditional blueberries, and blackberries.  We stopped at the first rock face encountered and munched some of the latter.  It had rained most of the week before, and we saw a number of mushrooms, which may or may not have anything to do with rain as my knowledge in the mushroom area is slight.  We did get some good photos of them, a couple of which are below.

 

The Corn Mill Shoals Portion:

Beginning at the edge of Cascade Lake Road:     

At 134’, a creek crosses the trail just before a gate.

At 203’, there is a junction with Longside Trail to your left.

At 345’, a small creek tinkles down from the left to cross the trail.

At 563’, there is a junction with Big Rock Trail on the left.


A couple of the mushrooms we encountered along the trail

photos by A. Scott Lavender


The Big Rock Portion:

Beginning at the junction of Corn Mill Shoals Road Trail:

At 356’, the rocks begin.  These are enhanced by wooden logs to hold the trail together in places.  This, combined with the large portion of the trail that is atop a rock face, make this a very stony path.  This particular section of rocks goes until 555’.

At 459’, a small creek parallels the trail on the left and across the trail at 751’, where it flows out of a rock on the path.  There was very good flow when I was there, but it should be kept in mind there had been a lot of rain, so I am not sure what the flow is like normally.

At 1500’, a partially grass-covered rock face slopes down to the right.

At 1564’, the rock face as trail begins.  It opens up at 1670’ with the trail being to the left on the opposite side.  There is a nice view to the left at 1830’.  

At 2048’, the rock face resumes.  Stay left to remain on the trail.  This is where we ate the blackberries.  The face turns back to earth around 2500’.

At 2846’, the trail is again rock face.  There are wonderful views to the left, including Looking Glass Rock in the Pisgah National Forest.  This portion of rock peters out around 3400’.

At 3540’, it picks back up and goes until around 3700’.

At 4007’, a springhead springs out of the rock.

At 4261’, the rock face resumes.  The trail meanders here, and it is hard to stay on track, or would be if someone had not placed stacked rock markers here and there as needed to indicate the presence of the trail.  These are unofficial, of course, but I like them.  They remind me of the pukel statues from Tolkien or of miniature Easter Island statues for some reason.  They are fun to look for and find, trail blazes from those who have gone before us, a memento to say, “I was here” .  These little guys are found on a number of trails throughout the Forest.

At 4542’, the trail ends at a junction with Cedar Rock Trail.

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