Friends of DuPont Forest has advocated for a Master Recreation Plan for years, and it is finally here! The plan recommends much-needed changes to DuPont Forest, which sees more than one million annual visitors engaging in activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding on a trail system not originally designed for such heavy use. The plan focuses on preserving conservation and the Forest’s ecosystem while balancing the needs of multiple user groups. Scroll through for more exciting updates!


The Forest currently attracts more than 1 million visitors per year—and the trails were not designed for such heavy use. The plan will suggest capital improvements to enhance the visitor experience while protecting natural resources, along with management recommendations and annual funding requirements.

The #1 piece of feedback we received: We all care deeply about the Forest and want to protect it.


The complete plan will be available in June 2024, though a preview was shared with the public on April 6. These proposed changes arose from a thorough trail evaluation, community feedback, and insights from consultants and N.C. Forest Service personnel.

Some trails will become directional, while some others will become designated to specific user groups. We will also build brand-new trails.

The MRP will help prioritize maintaining a sustainable trail system that can accommodate high visitation while protecting the forest’s unique ecology.

The public was overwhelmingly supportive of making some changes to help protect the ecology of the forest and keep the majority of trails multi-use. Some trails will become designated and/or directional: in high-traffic areas where safety is a concern to protect natural resources and wildlife to enhance the user experience

~10 miles of trail will be designated as equestrian/hiker trails, and ~5.6 miles of trail will be designated as biker/hiker trails. Hikers will continue to have access to all trails.


The majority of trails in DuPont would remain multi-use for all user groups. However, a few proposed changes include:

  • Ridgeline: Bikers downhill, hikers uphill, no horses
  • Shoals Creek, Flatwoods & Farmhouse: Hikers & horses only
  • Reasonover: Horses directional from Lake Julia. Bikes directional from Conservation Road
  • High Falls and Triple Falls: Hikers & horses only
  • Jim Branch: Bikers uphill
  • Rocky Ridge: Bike/hike only
  • Grassy Creek: Bike/hike only
  • Hooker Creek: Bike/hike only
  • Stone Mountain: Hikers only

Additionally, some trails will be permanently closed due to unstable surfaces, while brand-new trails will be in the works!


“Concept” trail ideas are in the works to better serve each user group, including a Jim Branch connector and Ruffed Grouse connector for hikers and horses.

The “Continental Divide” area (717 acres of land acquired in 2021) would house some Horse/Hike only trails.

Additionally, we hope to develop some of the “donut hole” near Lake DERA for future recreational use.

Note: Trails will not be closed to user groups until new trails for affected groups open up. No one would be displaced!


Changes will not take place overnight. This is the beginning of a robust process of planning, decision-making, funding, and then implementation. It will take years to complete.

Directional/designated use changes will not take place until after January 2025 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service will begin finalizing their “trail priority” list.

The Forest Service and Friends of DuPont are grateful for the massive amount of public input that was offered and incorporated into the plan over the past year. We are so proud that our community came out to support Dupont State Forest.

Funding for the DSRF Master Recreation Plan was set aside by the N.C. General Assembly in 2021. The state funds include $200,000 for the development of the master recreation plan and $550,000 for implementing the plan. In addition, the Friends of DuPont Forest sought and received an additional $100,000 in funding from the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority and theTransylvania County Tourism Development Authority. These additional funds allowed the scope of the plan to expand and include topics like the waterfall corridor, future trends, and newly acquired lands.