Graveyard Fields Hike & Waterfall

Tucked off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 418.8, Graveyard Fields is an easy waterfall hike close to Asheville, North Carolina. This popular hiking destination attracts thousands of visitors every year with its rhododendron tunnels, multiple waterfalls, and stunning vistas. In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of Graveyard Fields, exploring both the loop hike and the trek to Upper Falls, and find out why this spot continues to be one of the most popular hikes off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 

Always practice waterfall safety! Do not climb on rocks near waterfalls and use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks. These rocks are slippery from mist and algae. The top of any waterfall is dangerous—never play in the stream above a waterfall.

How Did Graveyard Fields Get Its Name?

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Contrary to what you might assume, Graveyard Fields wasn’t named for an actual graveyard. Instead, the area’s name is said to have originated from the tree stumps and gnarled roots that dot the landscape. Hundreds of years ago, high winds toppled mature trees, leaving only the stumps behind. Furthermore, logging and wildfire damage from a century ago left the area barren. With only the charred stumps remaining, visitors claimed the land resembled headstones in a graveyard.

Graveyard Fields Loop Hike

Length: Approximately 1.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

 

 

The Graveyard Fields Loop Trail begins at the parking area off the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is one of the few areas that is equipped with trash cans and rustic restrooms! When you begin the trail, you’ll start by descending a gently sloped paved path through thick rhododendron bushes before coming upon wooden bridges. These help you cross the Yellowstone Prong stream above the waterfall. It’s tempting to play in the waters here, but waterfall safety is paramount here. One slip could lead to tragedy.

 

Once safely over the bridges, veer right to follow the path to Second Falls. Here, you’ll find one of the most impressive waterfalls in North Carolina tumbling over a series of rocky ledges into a natural swimming hole below. To continue with the loop hike, retrace your steps slightly until you’re back at the wooden bridges. It is here that you’ll pick up the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike once again. You’ll find a boardwalk offers hikers a way to cut through the meadow without damaging sensitive vegetation beneath.

 

At just 1.3 miles, and relatively flat terrain, this is a great hike for children, and hikers of all skill levels. 

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graveyard fields waterfall easy waterfall hikes near asheville nc

Graveyard Upper Falls Trail

Length: Approximately 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

For those seeking a more challenging hike, the trail to Upper Falls within the Graveyard Fields area offers a rewarding challenge and stunning views of one of the tallest waterfalls in the region. The trail begins off the loop hike and follows a scarcely-marked path through dense forest and rocky terrain. You’ll cross wooden bridges and rock hop over streams as you make your way to the base of Upper Falls.

 

The hike is on level ground, for the most part, until you near the base of Upper Falls. Here, the trail splits. You can choose to explore to the left where you’ll get a view of the lowest section of the waterfall. If you go right and scramble up boulders, you’ll be rewarded with a clear view of Upper Falls.

 

Since this trail isn’t as well marked as the loop trail, it’s a good idea to bring a map with you to help you navigate the forks in the “road.”

Upper Falls Graveyard Fields waterfall near asheville nc

Why Is Graveyard Fields So Popular?

The entire Graveyard Fields area continually draws large crowds during peak tourists months in summer and fall. The close proximity to Asheville is one reason. It’s ease of access directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway is another. The natural beauty found here is hard to compete with, since there are so few areas where you can witness breathtaking mountain vistas and jaw-dropping waterfalls in the same hike. The ease of terrain allows for people of most skill levels to enjoy the North Carolina mountain scenery, while the plunge pool found at the base of Second Falls invites visitors to one of the best swimming holes near Asheville!

Final Thoughts

No matter the reason for its popularity, it’s important to remember two things when visiting. One is to always practice waterfall safety. Never attempt to play in the waters on top of a waterfall. Too often, people underestimate how strong the water currents can be and how slippery the wet rocks become. Second is to always practice the 7 principles of Leave No Trace. Leave the area the same or better than how you found it. If everyone practices these two behaviors, Graveyard Fields can continue to be a safe, scenic place to explore.

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