Hiking Trail Review
Sheep Mountain Trail
DuPont State Forest

A readily accessible and moderate difficulty trail that should be on everyone's to-do list.

Walk toward the light...

photo by A. Scott Lavender


There are two ways to access this trail, both off Staton Road.  Remember the Henderson County end of the road is known as DuPont Road (off Kanuga/Crab Creek Road).

From Staton Road.:    The trail is accessible .4 miles north of the junction with Staton Road and Cascade Lake Road.  This is not the end from which I began.  The access I used is .1 mile north of High Falls Access Area where the visitor’s centre is located.  There is a small parking area at this end.  Do not block the gate.  If it is full, there is plenty of parking at High Falls Access Area (formerly Buck Forest Parking Area).

Blaze Markings:  unblazed

Length:  approximately 1.5 miles; exactly 8036 feet (approximately 3.0 miles and exactly 16,072 feet there and back as the trail does not end at an accessible location); this differs slightly from 1.6 miles on the DuPont State Recreational Forest trail map published in 2012. 

Difficulty:  moderate; this is the official trail designation

This trail is an old roadbed.  The hike is largely uphill from this direction, though the grade is not excessively steep.  Those wanting an easier hike can do the trail in reverse order.  Those wanting a one way hike can leave a car at the other end.  The trail can be made a loop by adding 1.1 miles of Staton Road, which is what I did when I hiked it.  Please see the trail map and/or this site to piece this together.

DuPont has tons of great rock formations

photo by A. Scott Lavender

I hiked this trail in early May with my friend A. Scott Lavender.  There is mixed hardwood forest with the occasional large tree, small areas of pine, laurel (Rhododendron maximum), and ivy bush (Kalmia latifolia).  The only surprise to me was no creek crossings.  Surely water flows from off Sheep Mountain—perhaps the streams are underground except during wet weather.  Speaking of Sheep Mountain, it is, of course the namesake of the trail.  This is fitting as the trail goes around this low (around 2800-3000’ in elevation) mountain.  The obvious reason for the name would be its use for raising sheep in the past, though I do not know if this is accurate. 


I began measuring distance at the trail sign before the gate:

At 723’, a second gate, presumably unused, is present.  This gate is the style I know as a “cattle gate.”

At 1445’, there is an open area to the right.  There are three of these along the trail, and they won’t last long unless the Forest Service keeps them clear.

At 1593’, notice the large boulders to the left.

At 2286’, a wet-weather spring is on the left.

At 2659’, there is another open area on the right.

At 3037’, a laurel-lined wet-weather spring  (or, perhaps, underground) is on the left.

At 3385’, there is a confusing junction with another gravel road to the right.  This may be the same road encountered at 4738’.  In any event, go straight.

At 4738’, there is another confusing junction with a road going to the right.  Go left.

At 5162’, there are some large rocks to the right.

From 5670’ to 5990’, the trail passes through a power line cut.  This cut is unusual in that it features no fewer than three sets of power lines of different sizes.  These cuts are nice if you imagine them as natural openings.  This is easier to do with those containing only one set of lines.

At 6081’, another closed cattle gate is on a road to the right.  Stay straight.

At 6529’, there is a road to the left.  Stay straight.

At 7065’, there is a junction with Pine Tree Trail to the left.  Stay straight.

At 7163’, there is a junction with Cascade Trail to the right. 

At 7700’, there is an open area to the right with gravel and rocks for maintenance.

At 7908’, there is a pull out to the right just past a cable blocking the trail.  You can leave a car here if you want to hike one way or from this side.

At 8000’, there is another pull out to the right.

At 8036’, the trail ends at the trail sign by Staton Road.  There is parking here.

One of the many trees you will meet along the way

photo by A. Scott Lavender

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