The Rock Quarry Road Trail in DuPont State Forest is a trail you do not want to miss!
Rock Quarry Road Trail
photo by A. Scott Lavender
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 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 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 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; 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 1.27 miles (approximately 2.54 miles there and back as the trail does not end at an accessible location; exactly 6680 feet; this matches the DuPont State Forest trail map published by Friends of Dupont Forest (rev. 2008).
Although the Rock Quarry 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 Buck Ridge Road Trail, Micajah Trail, and/or Wilkie Trail or the trail could even be part of a one-way hike to Rich Mountain Road by hiking a portion of Buckhorn Creek Road Trail and all of Cannon Creek Trail. Please see the trail map or the trail reviews on this site to piece these together.
Difficulty: easy; the trail itself is broad and easy to hike, and “easy” is the official trail designation; however, I would personally consider this a moderate grade trail due to elevation change (over half the trail is uphill, though never exceptionally steep) and the effective length of the trail due to having to backtrack the entire trail.
The Rock Quarry Road Trail is, indeed, a road. It is gravelled and broad. This type of trail demonstrates why DuPont is so popular with cyclists. The hike is largely uphill, though the grade is not excessively steep. 3 other trails, the Micajah Trail, Buck Ridge Road Trail, and Buckhorn Creek Road Trail, are accessible from Rock Quarry Road Trail. The namesake rock quarry is almost halfway up the trail. The quarry is fantastic, and I recommend hiking the trail just for this feature.
Winter view from the Rock Quarry
photo by A. Scott Lavender
I hiked this trail in late February with my friend A. Scott Lavender. It was brisk early on, but warmed up nicely once we hit some sun near the quarry. We were both fascinated with the quarry. The quarry was commercial prior to being incorporated into the State Forest. Now, the Forest Service uses the boulders to maintain and beautify DuPont State Forest.
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.
The Field at 2525'
photo by A. Scott Lavender
At 2940’, there is a confusing unmarked junction. A road goes to the right (straight) into the quarry area, ending at the quarry wall. 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. 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. Rock Quarry Road Trail makes up 2 of the 4 junctions as the trail continues past the junction. Take the rightmost of the official trails—the trail that is level (all the others go up or down from the junction). The pine grove to the left and continuing some way is the other side of the large pine grove on Buckhorn Creek Road Trail, though it is not as dominant on this end.
At 4569’, a small pond, filled with frog eggs when I did it, covers the trail in a low area of the trail; walk around it. There was a thin layer of ice on the pond when I hiked the trail, and I could see the tadpoles swimming merrily within the eggs. The water supply for the pond comes from the rocky areas along the trail for some distance, their combined waters forming a very small watercourse.
At 6492’, two yellow posts with a cable prevent motor vehicles from entering the field beyond. This field, like the previous one, is mown or bush-hogged. Previously, the trees along the right side of the field and on the mountain slope, had been cut out to provide a fantastic view of the valley and ridges to that side. Sapling-sized trees block the view now in the summer, but there is a spectacular winter view. You can stop here if you wish, but the trail actually proceeds across the field a mere 10 or so feet into the wood before ending at private property. Purist trail hikers such as myself will want to finish it out so that they can say they hiked the entire trail.
At 6680’, the trail ends at private property. An old chain is present, but was not across the trail when I hiked it. Blue ribbons indicated the end of the trail.
Tumbled boulders at the rock quarry
photo by A. Scott Lavender
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