Hiking Trail Review
Hill Top Trail
DuPont State Forest

A mini-meadow along the trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender

This newly expanded trail connects Lake Imaging Road Trail to Grassy Creek Falls Trail It was previously known as Hilltop Loop and is not directly accessible.  I am considering the beginning to be the end on the Lake Imaging Road Trail accessible from the Lake Imaging Access Area.  At the Access Area, there is an outdated kiosk available.  The primary trail accessed here is Lake Imaging Road Trail, though there are several other trails off it, including this one.


There are two ways to reach the access area: one from U.S. 276 in Cedar Mountain, N.C. and the other from Crab Creek Road.

From Cedar Mountain, N.C.:  Take U.S. Highway 276.  Turn onto Cascade Lake Road.  Drive 2.5 miles.  Turn right onto Staton Road.  Travel 2.8 miles.  Lake Imaging Access Area is on the right.  This is a medium-sized parking area.

DuPont Road from Crab Creek Road:  Take Crab Creek Road (this road is also known as Kanuga Road in Henderson County should one 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).  Travel 2.6 miles.  Turn left into Lake Imaging Access Area.  There is a medium-sized parking area.

Blaze Markings:  unblazed

Length:  approximately 1 mile or approximately 2 miles there and back as the trail does not end at an accessible location; exactly 5237 feet one way or 10,474 feet there and back.  Note that 1.2 miles or 6391 feet one way of the Lake Imaging Road Trail or approximately 2.4 miles or exactly 12,782 feet must be hiked to access the trail.  Thus, the actual there and back distance incorporating both trails is 4.4 miles or 23,256 feet.  This differs slightly from the one way distance of 1.1 miles listed on the DuPont State Recreational Forest trail map published by the North Carolina Forest Service (rev. 2012). 

Difficulty:  easy; this is the official trail designation.  Due to the actual distance of 4.4 miles and the elevation change, I consider this trail to be moderate difficulty.

The quick and the dead

photo by A. Scott Lavender

Note the trail map shows the Lake Imaging Road Trail going off the parking lot to the left; it actually goes to the right and wraps around.  The trail can be made a partial loop by adding a portion of the Grassy Creek Falls Trail back to Lake Imaging Road Trail.  A through-hike could also be arranged utilizing a portion of Buck Forest Road Trail.  Please see the map or trail reviews on this site for details.   

I hiked this trail in mid-May with my friend, A. Scott Lavender.  It features some slope and a nice variety of terrain along the Lake Imaging portion.  There is the lake, of course, with its picnic shelter and fishing or observation deck, so there is more than the usual fare here.  Hill Top Trail still looks new on the expanded end, which makes for an interesting hike.  There are some decently-sized trees here and there along the way.


The Lake Imaging Road Trail Portion:

I began measuring distance at the edge of the parking area. 

At 60’, the road is gated.

At 118’, there is a nice kiosk with an unfortunately outdated map.

At 365’, there is an unofficial trail to the left.  Keep straight.

At 413’, a decently-sized creek flows under the road.

At 853’, there is a junction with Ridgeline Trail to the left.

At 1179’, a horse tie-out is on the right.

At 1214’, Lake Imaging greets you.  A picnic shelter, a regular dock, and a partially covered dock are present.

At 1351’, the trail crosses a culvert for the stream feeding the lake.

At 1394’, a nice oak splits the trail.  Take either way.

At 1617’, there is a junction with Jim Branch Trail to the left.  It’s superb rockwork is inviting.

At 1735’, an unofficial trail to the left leads to the lake.

At 1762’, a small creek passes beneath the trail.  This one does not lead to the lake, though it appears to do so.

At 2744’, there is an unofficial trail to the left.  Stay straight.

From 3871’ to 4050’, a meadow graces the path.

From 6000’ to 6184’, the trail is on-and-off-again a rock face.

At 6391’, there is a junction with Hill Top Trail to the right.  At the time of this writing, the sign reads “Hilltop Loop.”  The trail has been recently expanded and is no longer a loop. 


Hill Top Trail:

I began measuring from the junction with Lake Imaging Road Trail.

Around 550’, there is a marshy area that seems slightly alien.

At 2765’, notice the large tree to the right.  Take a moment to look around and see some other fairly large trees of various types.

At 5237’, the trail ends at a junction with Grassy Creek Falls Trail.

Hike this trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender

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