Hiking Trail Review
Poplar Trail
DuPont State Forest

A great moderate difficulty trail with a small creek and some winter views of rock faces.

To be honest, the first thing I thought of when I saw this was the movie Labyrinth with all its weirdness.

The second thing I thought of was the opening of William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis"--

To him who in the love of Nature holds

Communion with her visible forms, she speaks...

photo by A. Scott Lavender

This trail is not directly accessible.  It connects Rifle Trail and White Pine Loop.  I am considering Rifle Trail as the access as it is accessible from Sky Valley Road.  White Pine Loop is not directly accessible. 

Regarding Rifle 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.  Poplar Trail is also moderate difficulty.  It features a nice creek crossing and some winter views of nearby rock faces. 


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 .16 mile or exactly 844 feet of Rifle Trail must be hiked.  Poplar Trail is approximately .32 mile or exactly 1714 feet (this matches the .3 mile on the Western North Carolina Trail Map:  DuPont State Recreational Forest map by Pisgah Map Company [2014]).  Also, as the trail does not loop, the there and back distance is approximately .48 mile or exactly 2558 feet.  The hike can be made a loop in various ways as several trails interconnect or are nearby; please see the map or this website to piece this together.     

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


As is the case with most of DuPont, the trail is an old road.  I hiked this trail in late January with my friend A. Scott Lavender.  It was chilly, but I enjoyed the hike. 

The trail is moderately sloped almost its entire length

photo by A. Scott Lavender

The Rifle Trail Portion:

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


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.



Poplar Trail:

I began measuring at the edge of Rifle Trail


At 829’, the trail crosses a creek.

At 1456’, an old roadbed heads off to the left.  Stay straight.

At 1714’, the trail ends at a junction with White Pine Loop.

The old roadbed near the end of the trail

photo by A. Scott Lavender

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