A plethora of plants and trees adorn this lesser-travelled trail.
Some of the awesomeness along the trail
photo by A. Scott Lavender
As I have hiked it, this trail runs from the Cascade Trail to the Sheep Mountain Trail. It is not directly accessible at either end, though it is accessible from Cascade Lake Road or twice from Staton Road. As all these meet the trail somewhere in the middle, I am not counting these as access points for this review. Thus, the trail incorporates the first portion of the Cascade Trail to reach the beginning. There are three ways to access the Cascade 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 2.7 miles to the Cascade Trail sign on the right. There is a small parking area on the left.
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). At 5.4 miles, turn right onto Cascade Lake Road. Travel .2 miles to Cascade Trail on the right. There is a small parking area on the left.
Cascade Lake 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 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 to the Cascade Trail on the left. There is a small parking area 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.
Blaze Markings: both Cascade and Pine Tree Trails are unblazed
Length: approximately 2.2 miles or exactly 11,488 feet one way; approximately 4.4 miles or exactly 22,976 feet there and back as neither end of the trail is accessible; this trail requires an additional 1.3 miles or 7040 feet one way or approximately 2.6 miles or exactly 14,080 feet there and back of the Cascade Trail for an actual there and back distance of 7.0 miles or 37,056 feet. Note the Pine Tree Trail itself differs slightly from the one way distance of 2.1 miles listed on the DuPont State Recreational Forest trail map published in 2012.
Difficulty: moderate; this is the official trail designation; however, due to the actual there and back distance of 7 miles, I consider this trail difficult.
This little fellow doesn't quite blend in...which is how we could take his photo
photo by A. Scott Lavender
The recently expanded Pine Tree Trail now runs from the Cascade Trail to Sheep Mountain Trail. Those wanting a one way hike can combine 971’ of Sheep Mountain Trail to Staton Road and leave a car at the parking area at the end of the trail. Those wanting to make a partial loop can combine 98’ of Sheep Mountain Trail to Cascade Trail and take the entire trail in reverse back to Cascade Lake Road. Further, those wanting a shorter hike, can arrange to make shorter loops or one way hikes with a second car where Pine Tree Trail intersects with Staton Road. Please see the trail map and/or this site to piece this together.
I hiked this trail in early May with my friend A. Scott Lavender. The Cascade Trail is primarily an old roadbed and mostly gravelled. It has a nice mix of most of the attributes that make DuPont so nice. There is mixed hardwood forest with the occasional large tulip poplar, areas of pine, laurel (Rhododendron maximum), ivy bush (Kalmia latifolia), exposed rock, a meadow, and creeks.
The Pine Tree Trail is partially an old roadbed or crisscrosses the same. Galax, turkey brush, violets, blueberry, and its subtype of buckberry are found along the trail. Pine Tree trail is aptly named. Much of the trail traverses pine groves containing the occasional large pine tree.
The Cascade Trail portion:
I began measuring distance at the edge of Cascade Lake Road.
At 250’, there is a small area of exposed rock to the left.
At 840’, the trail crosses through a wet-weather spring just off the meadow.
From 955-1185’, the trail traverses an open field with a large rock to the right. The trail curves around this feature, so it remains to your right the entire time.
At 1268’, note the interesting rock to the left.
At 1450’, there is a man-made rock arrangement on the right. This almost appears to be a small platform, but I think it is just a stack or relatively flat rocks place to prevent erosion.
At 1736’, there is a confusing junction with Pine Tree Trail; due to the sign’s placement, it is unclear which trail is which. Turn right to access Pine Tree Trail.
The Pine Tree Trail:
I began measuring at the junction with Cascade Trail.
At 230’, there is a big rock to the left.
At 1301’, a spur trail to the left leads to Staton Road. Go straight. From this point, the trail parallels Staton Road until the intersection with the same.
At 2142’, the trail intersects with Staton Road.
At 2576’, there is a trail sign indicating the trail leaves the fringes of Staton and Cascade Lake Roads and heads back into the wood. Apparently, the portion of the trail from here to the next intersection with Staton Road was or is known as Southern Off Road.
At 3708’, there is a junction with Longside Trail to the right.
From 3762’ to 3888’, the trail is exposed rock.
At 6004’, in an area of young oak and maple, there is an unofficial trail to the right that goes around a washed out portion of the trail. The other end of this spur is at 6144’.
At 6556’, a creek begins to the right. It is hidden by ivy and laurel at this point. The watercourse is clearly audible at 6655’.
At 8594’, a creek runs under the trail is a laurel slick. A collection of moss covered cinder blocks hints at an unfinished project in the past.
At 9312’, the trail goes over a creek.
At 9453’, a wooden fence leads to Staton Road.
At 9558’, there is an intersection with Staton Road. There is a small pull off for a car.
At 11,488’, the trail ends at a junction with Sheep Mountain Trail.
photo by A. Scott Lavender
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