Hiking Trail Review
for
Rifle Trail
in
DuPont State Forest


DuPont has another winner with this one.



The Rifle Trail sets its sights upslope

photo by A. Scott Lavender


This trail is accessible from Sky Valley Road; the other end connects to the Guion Trail.  There is no parking for this trail, so the nearby Shoal Creek Trail parking area is used.  This is a moderate-difficulty trail that is nearly all slope.  There is a nice section of pine woods along the way. 

Directions:

From DuPont Road (a.k.a. Staton Road):  Turn onto Sky Valley Road off DuPont Road.  This junction is 3.2 miles north of the DuPont Visitors Centre.  Travel 1 mile to the Shoal Creek trailhead.  Note the road turns to gravel at .7 miles.  There is a 2-3 car parking area present on the right.  Walk back 140’ to the Rifle Trail, which is on the same side of the road as the parking area.

Blaze Markings:  unblazed

Length:  approximately .47 mile; exactly 2456 feet.  Note this is shorter than the listed length of .5 miles on the Western North Carolina Trail Guide:  DuPont State Forest map by Pisgah Map Company (2014).  Also, as the trail does not loop, the there and back distance is approximately 1 mile or exactly 4912 feet.  The hike can be made a loop in various ways as several trails interconnect or are nearby; please see the map to piece this together.  The route we took was Rifle Trail to Guion Trail to Hickory Mountain Road to White Pine Loop to Poplar Trail back to Rifle Trail.  An easier to remember loop could be made by going to the end of Rifle Trail, turning right onto Guion and back to Sky Valley Road then follow the road to the parking area.   

Difficulty:  moderate; due to effective length and some slope; this is the official designation, and I agree, even with the additional there and back distance



The official trail sign deviates from the norm but still manages to look cool

photo by A. Scott Lavender


As is the case with most of DuPont, the trail is an old road.  Both the Poplar Trail and the Guion Trail are accessible from Shoal Creek Trail.  I hiked this trail in late January with my friend A. Scott Lavender.  It was chilly but worth it.  I don’t know why the Trail is named Rifle, but I think it’s a cool name.  In general, there is a lot of pine, laurel (Rhododenron maximum), and ivy bush (Kalmia latifolia) along the way.

 

I began measuring distance at the edge of Sky Valley Road before the trail sign. 

 

Rifle Trail:

At 787’, a nice patch of turkey brush carpets the forest floor to the right.

At 844’, there is a junction with Poplar Trail to the left.

At 2456’, the trail ends at a junction with Guion Trail.




Some of the ivy bush and laurel

photo by A. Scott Lavender


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