Photo Op on Wheels

The Tour de Falls is for families who want the beauty without the trek.

The not-so-good news about DuPont State Forest this year? Some trails have been closed due to enthusiastic interest in the Blue Ghost fireflies — that rare insect, native only to the Southern Appalachians and densely clustered at DuPont, that glow for a scant three weeks in mid-May through early June.

“The temporary trail closures are in response to an overwhelming number of visitors during the 2015 blue ghost season … forest officials observed a high level of habitat disturbance and disruption by the large nighttime crowds, which could have long-term impacts on local populations of fireflies. Forest officials ask that the public observe trail closure signs and stay out of closed areas,” reads a passage on dupontforest.com. (It also states that nearby public lands will still be open for blue-ghost observation, but doesn’t reveal where.)

The better news is that the biannual Tour de Falls Guided Bus Tour revs up again on May 7 and 8, aligned with Mother’s Day weekend. The popular event is geared for families who have limited hiking mobility but want to enjoy the forest’s famous cascades, including Triple Falls, High Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Lake Julia. These scenic wonder-spots, among the hundreds of waterfalls in Transylvania County, have inspired travelers from around the world; one of them, Hooker Falls (not on the tour), was the site of key battle scenes filmed in the first installment of the Hunger Games blockbuster franchise.

Conducted in shuttles with a running time of about three hours, Tour de Falls is organized so there’s plenty of time to linger at every stop, the better for picnicking and photo opportunities. Guides at each juncture will provide fun facts.

This quote by a past participant pretty much says everything: “What I liked most was the scenery and not having to walk to see it!”

The Tour de Falls Guided Bus Tour, May 7-8, 9am-2:30pm. $12/general, $6/ages 6-17; under 6 free. Cash or check. More information at www.dupontforest.com.

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