Hiking Trail Review
Ridgeline Trail
DuPont State Forest

The trail winds through a patch of laurel

photo by A. Scott Lavender

Ridgeline Trail is a peaceful, pine-dominated hike.  It connects Lake Imaging Road Trail and Hickory Mountain Loop and Hickory Mountain Road Trail.  For purposes of this review, I am considering the Lake Imaging end to be the beginning.  Thus, the trail incorporates the first segment of the Lake Imaging Trail starting at the Lake Imaging Access Area.


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 1.6 miles (approximately 3.2 miles there and back as the trail does not end at an accessible location); exactly 8268 feet one way or 16,536 feet there and back.  An additional .2 miles or 853 feet one way or .3 miles or 1706 feet there and back of the Lake Imaging Trail is necessary as the Jim Branch Trail does not end at an accessible location.  Thus, the total distance is 1.8 miles or 9121 feet one way and 3.5 miles or 18,242 feet there and back.  The trail itself is slightly longer than the one way distance of 1.5 miles listed on the DuPont State Recreational Forest trail map published by the North Carolina Forest Service (rev. 2012), probably due to rounding it off differently.  It can be made into a partial or full loop by piecing together parts of various trails such as Hickory Mountain Road Trail, the Buck Forest Road Trail, and the remainder of the Lake Imaging Road Trail.  Please see the trail map or the trail reviews on this site for more information.

Difficulty:  difficult, presumably due to elevation change; this is the official trail designation, and I agree with the assessment, especially with the actual distance of 3.5 miles.

The walkway or, perhaps, a bicycle ramp

photo by A. Scott Lavender

Ridgeline Trail is dominated by pine.  Even the areas that are not a pine grove have a good amount of pine in them.  I like to hike through pine groves as they are peaceful and allow you to see off into the wood.  The trail is also nice because you can access several trails off of it and interconnect them as you can with the majority of DuPont’s trails.


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.


The Ridgeline Trail:

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

From 0’-c.2500’, the trail goes through a pine grove that finally peters out at the top of a ridge (fittingly).

At 322’, there is a partial view of Lake Imaging on its namesake trail below.

At 752’, there is an old walkway of wood.  We had to ponder this for a bit.  It was long and narrow, but had grooves crisscrossing it such as are used elsewhere in DuPont for traction and to aid in water runoff.  It was near the edge of the trail near a bank, so maybe it also was used as support for that although, if so, it does not now as the bank has washed away assuming it was there previously. 

At 1066’, you can hear a creek on the right although you cannot see it.  The trail parallels the creek until 1912’.

At 2812’, there is an intersection with an old roadbed.

At 6731’, there is a junction with Hooker Creek Trail to the right.

At 7986’, there is a junction with Hickory Mountain Loop, which turns sharply to the left.  Continue straight .  I am not sure if Hickory Mountain Loop and Ridgeline overlap until the end of the trail, but that should be the case for the latter to be a true loop.  Ridgeline really should have ended here, but it continues until the triple junction following.

At 8268’, the trail ends at a triple junction with Hickory Mountain Loop and Hickory Mountain Road Trail.  The latter features a large open field running up to the junction.  A picnic shelter is on the lower end of the field.

A view down a nascent gully

photo by A. Scott Lavender

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