In the summer of 2011, there were rumors around Asheville that a Hollywood film crew was on location near Boundary Road in Pisgah National Forest, close to the town of Barnardsville. National headlines confirmed that a film was being shot in the Asheville area. Though some may have wandered out to this remote forested area to watch the film team and stars at work, many locals were unaware of the actual name of the film until recently.
This year, the launch of “The Hunger Games” has been accompanied by a ton of publicity about the new movie. CNN, Entertainment Weekly and other national news sources have confirmed several filming locations that were utilized in Western North Carolina. Similar to the “Twighlight” films, the movie is already a hit among teenagers and younger children, as well as adults. This post-apocalyptic drama is set in an imagined futuristic North America, which is divided into many different districts, rather than countries and states. The plot hinges around young people who are given as ‘tribute’ to compete for survival in District 12 — the Appalachian Mountains.
“The Hunger Games” was shot in wilderness areas near Asheville and Shelby, North Carolina. Some arena scenes were filmed in Charlotte. The scenic places where shooting occurred are some of the most pristine natural areas surrounding Asheville. The film stars were housed at the Hotel Indigo in Downtown Asheville and were spotted at some of the city’s best-known eateries, bars and cafes. I will outline a few places in Western North Carolina where film aficionados can trace the steps of the actors, actresses and crew of “The Hunger Games.” For those that want to visit these wilderness areas, bring plenty of water, make sure to wear a pair of hiking boots, and carry some rain gear along in case the weather changes while out ‘on the trail.’
Dupont State Recreational Forest
The fireball and arena sequences were filmed in Dupont State Recreational Forest, less than one hour south of Asheville. With stunning waterfalls and pools, and a canopy of hardwood trees covering the trails, Dupont Forest is one of the most accessible wilderness areas near Asheville. Take a friend or loved one along and hike out to Triple Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. The hike is actually an easy grade with only small gains in elevation.
In the shadow of Craggy Mountain is the North Fork Reservoir, a huge lake that serves as a public water supply for Buncombe County. The film crew for “The Hunger Games” shot scenes near the reservoir – however this area is closed to hikers and public access. Onlookers can catch a glimpse of the reservoir from the Craggy Pinnacle Trail accessible via a parking lot at 364.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The climb takes about 20-30 minutes and may be considered strenuous for some, since gains in elevation are continuous. Hikers are rewarded with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, and a glimpse of the North Fork Reservoir from high atop the mountain.
Coleman Boundary in Pisgah National Forest
This filming site is located near the Appalachian town of Barnardsville, about a 40 minute drive Northeast of Asheville. Heading into the sleepy mountain town of Barnardsville, film fans will first pass the Navitat Canopy Tour on the left, a zip line adventure that sends participants flying through the tops of trees. It was an off day for shooting when one of the film’s stars, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) took the zip line tour with his former girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens. Not far down the road, portions of “The Hunger Games” were filmed at Coleman Boundary in Pisgah National Forest. This remote area is lush and green in the summer months, with trickling streams and towering trees. Be respectful of private residences built along the Pisgah National Forest Boundary, and do not trespass onto land that is posted. Find the trail that ascends to Craggy Mountain from the west. It can get steep in portions. Bring some good hiking boots and some protein filled snacks along and make a day trip out of it.
For those who prefer the convenience of being in Asheville, rather than the wilderness areas, there are still some great places to follow in the footsteps of the cast. According to CNN.com, “Actors reportedly dined at the Laughing Seed Café, Lexington Avenue Brewery, Wasabi and the Southern Kitchen and Bar. They also stopped by Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, the local independent bookseller.” Use these key points of interest for the cast as a template for a tour of Asheville. Or improvise along the way, shopping in some of the eclectic storefronts, visiting area galleries, or just people watching at the Grove Arcade, while sipping a drink.