Need to get out of the city and do a little country style social distancing? Try one of our scenic drives down US-276. While Western North Carolina is home to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, sometimes those gorgeous scenic overlooks can get a little crowded. Try one of several, lesser known scenic drives around WNC featured in this series of social distancing posts!
US-276 Waynesville to DuPont State Recreational Forest
Mileage: 51.7 miles
Drive Time: 1 hour 26 minutes
Route US-276 is a relatively short road (just over 100 miles) that stretches from Greenville, SC to Waynesville. It winds roughly south east from Main Street down through farm lands, following Pigeon River for the first several miles. You’ll be able to spot several waterfalls and trail heads from the scenic drive down US-276 before ending up in Transylvania County – Land of Waterfalls. Brevard, the main town in Transylvania is home to a quaint Main Street with plenty of shops and restaurants to explore. Stop at one or all of the attractions we’ve noted on the map, or just enjoy the drive!
Christopher Farms is a family owned, year round farm stand located just off of US-276 and just minutes from downtown Waynesville. They are open Monday – Saturday from 8am to 5pm and feature a variety of in season fruits and vegetables as well as locally sourced jams, candies, nuts, and even bacon! Stock up on lots of snacks for the drive down US-276.
Shining Rock Wilderness Area is part of the Pisgah National Forest and is not for the casual day hiker. There are several trailheads that start from where Shining Rock crosses US-276, one of which connects to the longer Art Loeb Trail and the Mountain to Sea trail that continues all the way to the coast. While the Shining Rock Trail is less than 4 miles to its summit, it climbs steeply to get there and is considered an advance trail. If you plan to hike this trail to completion, you will probably want to devote your entire day to the hike and make sure are prepared with proper clothing and shoes and plenty of water. However, it also makes a nice spot to stretch your legs if you just want to explore a short ways into the wilderness.
The Cradle of Forestry is a great stopover point located just off of US-276 where it crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is the birthplace of science based forestry management and contains several short trails as well as a small indoor museum. The Vanderbilt’s are accredited with the start of this legacy, donating the land that would become the start of the Pisgah National Forest.
The outdoor exhibits and the restrooms at the Cradle of Forestry is currently open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am – 4pm, but please make sure to check before you go as this may change without warning. The indoor exhibits are still closed until further notice.
Sliding Rock is located directly off of US-276. In season, you can pay a small fee to enter and slide down the long, (mostly) smooth falls into the pool below. Though it is currently closed for swimming and sliding, you still stop and enjoy the beauty of the waterfall.
Moore Cove Falls is located at the end of a short trail right off of US-276. The trail is follows Looking Glass Creek and is approximately .7 miles long with little elevation change and plenty of wildflowers along the way.
Looking Glass Falls is also right off of US-276 with no hiking required. Due to both the ease of access and the beauty of the falls, it is one of the most visited in our area.
At last we reach our destination – DuPont State Forest is one of our favorite spots to visit. Home to miles of trails and multiple waterfalls, Dupont has one of the easiest and most scenic routes to view several waterfalls including Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls all within a 4.5 mile loop. The visitors center and picnic areas are currently closed but there are some bathrooms open.
As always, please check with the individual parks before making plans to ensure than amenities are open. Travel safe and don’t forget to book your room for your WNC getaway!