Graveyard Fields Trail: Blue Ridge Parkway waterfall hiking
Hike the ultra-popular Graveyard Fields Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway to stunning waterfalls, through fields of wildflowers, blackberries and wild blueberries, and to beautiful Pisgah National Forest views.
This oddly-named area is wild, rugged and exceptionally beautiful. Sunlight streams through dense thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel, the forest’s gnarly branches casting an array of dappled light on the trail. The hike trails to two beautiful Graveyard Fields waterfalls, the multi-tiered second falls and the tall cascades of the upper falls. And the trail winds through a stream-filled valley with a memorable knobby, mounded terrain that’s filled with wild blackberry and blueberry bushes that burst with fruit in the late summer months. Graveyard Fields makes for one amazing, unforgettable hike.
This Graveyard Fields hike catches views of the surrounding mountains, including Black Balsam Knob, from the trailhead before plunging into a dense forest of laurel and rhododendron. It visits both Graveyard Fields waterfalls and treks through the fields themselves, hitting the highlights of this beautiful valley. It’s a moderate hike that spans just over 3 miles, roundtrip, and is a must-hike for Blue Ridge Parkway visitors looking for a great outdoor adventure.
Graveyard Fields Waterfalls Trail: the hike
The hike begins at the signed trailhead at the Graveyard Fields overlook (view trail maps and driving directions), catching beautiful views of the Graveyard Fields valley framed in rolling mountains and towering knobs. The hike descends a paved trail, trekking northbound and diving into a dense tunnel of rhododendron and mountain laurel.
The sound of rushing water grows louder as the trail sights Yellowstone Prong and then crosses the river by wooden bridge. The river’s flow alternates between small, cascading waterfalls and calm pools, nestled into a rocky river bed that’s been sculpted and scoured by the river’s flow over time.
The hike reaches a trail intersection at just under .2 mile, hanging a right to hike to the second falls. The hike passes a side trail that leads to the nearby Mountains to Sea Trail before descending to the waterfall on a series of wood stairs and angled ramps. The trail reaches the base of the second falls at .3 mile, catching views of the falls’ multi-tiered cascades and the sandy, boulder-filled riverbed just below the waterfall.
Departing the second falls, the hike doubles back to the trail junction, this time trailing southwest to begin the loop portion of the trail. The hike treks through sandy, grassy fields and crosses a boardwalk before passing a second trail junction at .7 mile.
The hike continues westbound toward the upperfalls, crossing a boardwalk and trailing through fields of wild blackberries and blueberries in gently rolling terrain. The hike reaches a third trail junction at .85 mile, hanging a right and following signs to the upper falls. The trail crosses a creek at 1.15 miles, and again at 1.35 miles before making a steady upward climb to the waterfall over rocky, rough terrain. The sound of rushing water fills the forest as the trail reaches the lower section of the waterfall.
The upper Graveyard Fields waterfall is divided into two sections, each accessible by a short side trail. At the lower section, the river slides over an angled, colorful rock outcrop, plunging down an extended chute before pooling above large, tumbled boulders.
The hike returns to the trail, making a final climb to the hike’s final destination: the uppermost waterfall. Yellowstone Prong tumbles from a towering cliff before cascading over an angled rock outcrop, twisting and turning as it falls and pools. The falls make a great spot for a mid-hike snack (and on early mornings, our favorite place to enjoy coffee and a trail bar on the Blue Ridge Parkway).
Departing the upper falls, the hike retraces its steps, descending on the trail and hiking eastbound. At 2.8 miles, the hike resumes the loop portion of the trail, trekking south to cross a wood bridge over Yellowstone Prong. The trail dives back into a dense forest of gnarly-branched rhododendron as it makes a climb to the trailhead, the onion-like scent of the green-leafed galax plant filling the air. The hike reaches the western trailhead at the Graveyard Fields parking area at 3.3 miles, completing the hike.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
Graveyard Fields Waterfalls Trail: Directions & Details
Free (limited) parking is available at the Graveyard Fields parking area and overlook at MP 418 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)
35.320383, -82.847050 // N35 19.223 W82 50.823