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.

 

trail info

TRAIL LOCATION: On the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, NC

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite day hike gear and Canon 6D DSLR

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map

Graveyard Fields was one of our first-ever hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway more a decade ago. And it’s become one of our favorite Asheville-area trails that we’ve loved to visit again and again, enjoying the trail through every season.

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.

Hike the Graveyard Fields Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway to a pair of beautiful waterfallsAbove: hike the Graveyard Fields Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway to two beautiful waterfalls near Asheville.

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 is a stream-filled valley framed in rolling mountains of the Pisgah National Forest

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 Graveyard Fields Trail dives through a dense canopy of rhododendron just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville

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.

Hike to the second falls at Graveyard Fields, a beautiful waterfall near the Blue Ridge Parkway

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 upper Graveyard Fields waterfall slides down an angled rock outcrop

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).

Upper Graveyard Fields falls tumbles from a towering cliff near the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville

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

Parking

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.)

Please Remember

Always leave no trace and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

35.320383, -82.847050     //     N35 19.223 W82 50.823

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Graveyard Fields Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway: Elevation Profile

Graveyard Fields Waterfalls Trail Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.

Eric is also a freelance writer, photographer and creative director.