A hiking trail guide to an interesting trail in DuPont State Forest. Buck Ridge Road is a typical ridge-line trail for the area.
Note: The Buck Ridge Road Trail is not accessible from a road. The trail begins at the junction with Rock Quarry Road Trail. Thus, I have given instructions to access the Rock Quarry Road Trail, from thence to the Buck Ridge Road Trail.
The Buck Ridge Road Trail winds into the distance.
photo by Bret James Stewart
Directions to Rock Quarry Road Trail:
There are three ways to access the trail: 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 2.3 miles to Rock Quarry Road Trail sign on the left. There is a small 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 .2 miles to Rock Quarry Road Trail on the right. There is a small parking area and a trail sign. 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 graveled. Note the nice waterfall at mile 3.0. At the 5 mile mark, the road turns into pavement. Travel .4 miles. Rock Quarry Road Trail is on the right. There is a small parking area and a trail sign. 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.
Blaze Markings: unblazed
Length: approximately .7 mile (approximately 1.4 miles there and back as the trail does not end at an accessible location; exactly 3745 feet one way; combined with the access portion of Rock Quarry Road Trail, it is 7428 feet one way; note the distance of the Buck Ridge Road Trail is slightly shorter than the distance of .72 as portrayed on the trail map produced by Friends of DuPont Forest in 2008.
Difficulty: moderate; due to elevation change and the effective length of the trail due to having to backtrack the entire trail.
Although the Buck Ridge Road Trail does not end at an accessible location, there are various ways to make the trail a partial loop by using all or portions of the Micajah Trail, Rock Quarry Road Trail, and/or Wilkie Trail. Please see the trail map or the trail reviews on this site to piece these together.
Green poking through along the Buck Ridge Road Trail.
photo by Bret James Stewart
The Rock Quarry Road Trail portion is, indeed, a road. It is gravelled and broad. The hike to the Buck Ridge Road Trail is mostly uphill, though the grade is not excessively steep. The Buck Ridge Road Trail itself is an old road with a large field near the end. It is clear and broad, but not gravelled. This trail follows the ridge and is nice because it allows winter views of two parallel ridges, especially from the middle onward. As with the nearly adjoining Buckhorn Creek Road Trail, I do not know what sort of buck is the namesake for this trail. The white-tailed deer is the most probable, but the elk and buffalo are possible candidates.
I hiked this trail in late February. It was cold pretty much all day, and there were dabs of snow here and there as I hiked, adding a bit of white to the path. These were left over from a previous snow.
The Rock Quarry Road Portion:
I began measuring distance at the gate just off Cascade Lake Road. This wide and easy portion of the trail is uphill much of the way. There is lots of laurel (Rhododendron maximum) and pine along this portion and, indeed, the entire trail.
At 1204’, there is a junction with the Micajah Trail to the left.
At 2525’, the trail opens up with a large field approximately ½ the size of a football field on the right; this makes for a nice variation in the forest type. I imagine there are a lot of deer and other wildlife in this area, though I didn’t see any as I was there at the wrong time of day. This field has been mown or bush-hogged by the Forest Service, probably for trail variety as well as to create an “edge” habitat for wildlife.
At 2748’, on the other side of the field, are the first vestiges of the rock quarry: large areas of tumbled boulders; they sort of run together, so that it could be considered one large area of tumbled boulders. There are also large areas of rock faces similar to those on Cannon Creek Trail. These are present for about 600’ along this section of the trail and sporadically thereafter.
At 2940’, there is a confusing unmarked junction. A road goes to the right (straight) into the quarry area. The trail continues to the left. Just beyond this intersection, I hiked to the top of the quarry. This provides an awesome view down into the quarry itself and its sides, which, in places, looks like the sides of a great ship due to the layers of rock resembling boards. There are also some long-range winter views here.
At 3445’, a nice rock face is on the right. A small springhead is at the top of the rock and the water trickles down the side and onto the trail. There had been several days of heavy rain just before I hiked the trail, so this may be a wet-weather spring.
At 3683’, there is a 4-way junction, if one considers only the official trails. It is really a 5-way junction, with the rightmost trail going back to the rock quarry (this is the other end of the road to the right or straight at 2940’). I have no idea why the Forest Service has not made this an official trail, I think it should be, but it currently is not, so do not be confused by the presence of this trail and take it by mistake. I do heartily recommend taking it on purpose if you have the time to hike it. At this junction, the Buck Ridge Road Trail and Buckhorn Creek Road Trail meet up with the Rock Quarry Road Trail. Buck Ridge Road Trail is signed and is the first trail on the left.
Buck Ridge Road Trail:
I began measuring at the middle of the Rock Quarry Road Trail in front of the road. Old metal posts and a rusty cable that used to block the road in post-State Forest days are still visible at the beginning of the trail.
At 3296’, the trail meets a junction with the Micajah Trail to the left.
At 3360’, the trail opens up into a large field that is partially a rock face. This is the same face that is the last on the Micajah Trail. There are some nice winter views here. The trail continues directly across the field.
At 3515’, the trail re-enters the wood.
At 3745’, the trail ends at the boundary line with the combination of the official yellow blazes and temporary blue ribbons.
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