The 4.5-mile loop hike on Cedar Rock Mountain in DuPont State Forest provides wonderful views and dramatic scenery - and it's not a difficult hike. Rising only a few hundred feet above the surrounding plateau, Cedar Rock Mountain contains some of the most exposed granite in western North Carolina. Hundreds of acres alternate between bare and moss/lichen covered rock. The area has become quite popular with mountain bikers and hikers. Park at the Corn Mill Shoals Access area on Casade Lake Road (directions at bottom of page). Cedar Rock is about 43 miles from Asheville, located between Brevard and Hendersonville.
Cedar Rock is a few miles from the trailhead to Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and High Falls (See our DuPont Waterfalls Guide.) So you hike both trails for a wonderful day outdoors. Merry Fallsis also nearby.
The loop hike includes parts of three trails. So be sure to take directions with you, since signage is limited. From the parking area (Corn Mills Shoals), cross the road and proceed around the gate on the Corn's Mill Shoals Trail. Continue past Longside Trail (on the left). About 1/10 mile past the gate as the road curves right, turn left on Big Rock Trail, an old roadbed leading uphill. Continue up the steady grade about 1/2 mile until the trail leads onto a granite slab. Continue forward and upward, looking for cairns (small rock piles) wherever the trail leads onto the granite. Download a PDF of the DuPont Forest Trails Map.
After re-entering the forest, approach a much larger granite dome with excellent views westward of Pisgah National Forest. At the top of this granite clearing, continue into the forest and around several turns until the path leads back onto a large, nearly flat granite area (used as a heliport by the Forest Service). This is a three-way intersection where Big Rock Trail terminates into Cedar Rock Trail.
Turn right on Cedar Rock Trail and hike southeasterly down the mountain. Continue to follow the cairns, stepping around the moss to protect it. The trail turns right into the forest, and then back out onto a sloping granite field with views toward Pinnacle Mountain and Stone Mountain. Follow the cairns through some trees and then back down a steeper granite incline.
Reenter the forest and reach the Little River Trail. Turn right and cross Tom's Creek. Continue parallel to the Little River for about a mile, then intersect with the Corn Mill Shoals Trail. Continue straight ahead on Corn Mills Shoals Trail for about 3/4 of a mile to return to the beginning of your hike and the parking area.
Driving Directions to Cone Mills Shoals Access Area in DuPont State Forest
From Asheville via Brevard: Take I-26 east to Exit 40, and take NC-280 toward Pisgah Forest. Turn left (east) on US-64 and go 3.7 miles to the gas station in Penrose. Turn right on Crab Creek Rd. and continue 4.3 miles and turn right on DuPont Rd. for 5.3 miles (road turns into Staton Road). Go past the Hooker Falls and Buck Forest Access Areas to a left at the end of Staton Road on Cascade Lakes Road. The Corn Mills Shoals Access Area is 0.8 miles on the right.
From Hendersonville: Take Business US-25 (Church St.) south to Kanuga and turn right. Kanuga becomes Crab Creek Rd. after 3.9 miles at Little River Rd. (flashing traffic light). Continue on Crab Creek 7.1 miles to DuPont Rd. Turn left for 5.3 miles (road turns into Staton Road). Go past the Hooker Falls and Buck Forest Access Areas to a left at the end of Staton Road on Cascade Lakes Road. The Corn Mills Shoals Access Area is 0.8 miles on the right.
Also: Hike to the top of nearby Stone Mountain!