Dupont State Forest garners varied reviews from mountain bikers. While images of knobby tires ripping across slick rock plaster the internet, scores of out-of-towners return home disappointed with Dupont. Too many forest roads; not enough chunderous single track, they say. Local recommendations can mitigate the double track blues, but putting together a totally-worth-the-drive shred session ultimately requires a well-formulated plan. Here is a guide to doing Dupont right in 25 trails. Use it as one continuous loop trail, coming in at just over 25 miles, or break it up by section. Either way, don’t head to DuPont without it.

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Section 1:

Lake Imaging Road (right/1.5 miles) – Hilltop Trail (right/1.1) – Buck Forest Road (right/.25) –  Conservation Road (left/1.5) – Airstrip (left/1.0)

Park at the Lake Imaging lot off of Staton Road. Strong riders will quickly smash the climb up Lake Imaging Road. Ease into a moderate flow trail and some fun little berms by forking right onto Hilltop Trail. While the aim is to avoid forest roads, Buck Forest and Conservation lead directly to some of the park’s best trails, and you’ll pass a charming covered bridge spanning over High Falls. Muscle through these forest roads, the longest of the day, and summit at an airstrip with incredible views of Pisgah Forest.  On your left lies the Airstrip Trailhead, an IMBA purpose-built romper with some small jumps and big log to ride across if you’ve got the moxy.

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Section 2:

Shelter Rock (left/.25) – Corn Mill Shoals (left/1.25) – Burnt Mountain (left/2.2) – Little River Trail (right/1.2) – Cedar Rock (left/ .75) – Big Rock (left/0.8) – Corn Mill Shoals (left/1.5)

A brief climb on Corn Mills Shoals reveals some playful rock slabs before a descent to a slippery crossing of the Little River. Take the Burnt Mountain loop clockwise for numerous senders and a gnarly little downhill finale.  Mellow double track running alongside the Little River quickly hit Cedar Rock Trail, where a technical climb turns into a steep and straight churner on moss-covered slick rock. Enjoy the expansive vistas before bombing down Big Rock’s wide open lines and chunky rock drops.

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Section 3:

Laurel Ridge (right/0.9) – Mine Mountain (right/1.0) – Fawn Lake Road (right/.25) – Reasonover Creek Trail (left/1.25) -Turkey Knob (right/3.3) – Briery Fork (right/.5) – Grassy Creek (left/1.1)

Tracing the backside of Dupont requires a touch of commitment as fewer trails mean fewer opportunities to cash out. Reasonover Creek is otherworldly majestic, a land for gnomes and fairies. As Reasonover Trail climbs and intersects Turkey Knob you’ll bathe in stunning views over Lake Julian. Mine Mountain, Turkey Knob, and Grassy Creek all serve up fast, winding descents, which finally bottom out at a wet-crossing of Grassy Creek. A brief detour to the right leads to the lovely Wintergreen Falls.

Screen-shot-2016-01-13-at-12.59.32-PMSection 4:

Sandy Trail (left/.5)-  Tarklin Branch (right/.5) – Thomas Cemetery Road (right/.75) – Hooker (left/1.1) –  Hickory Mountain Loop (left/1.1) – Ridge Line (right/1.5)

Hump two miles from Grassy Creek toward three of Dupont’s most exhilarating trails. Hooker Trail is obnoxiously quick. Hickory Mountain Loop begins with a slightly tough climb and finishes with an epically flowy, multi-lined attack session. Last summer trail builders turned an already-fast Ridgeline Trail into a silk-smooth, roller-strewn, berm-filled riot.  At day’s end the forest glows, as trees cast the shadows of the setting sun. The wind stings your eyes, your hearts pounds, and hoots echo down the ridge. This is Ridgeline euphoria – the preferred way to cap a perfect day in Dupont.

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