Hike the Graveyard Fields Loop to tumbling waterfalls and stunning views from the Mountains to Sea Trail, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC Blue Ridge Parkway

Graveyard Fields Loop: hiking to waterfalls and views on the Graveyard Ridge Trail

Hike the Graveyard Fields Loop to explore tumbling waterfalls, views from the Graveyard Ridge Trail, and fields of wildflowers, blueberries, and blackberries just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

trail info

6.15 miles
(round trip)
moderate
Dog-
friendly

LOCATION:Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, NC (maps & directions)

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map

Graveyard Fields is one of the most beautiful, wonderfully scenic and wonderfully unique hiking areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. And it’s also one of the Parkway’s most popular hikes: mix these trails with some sunshine and summertime weather, and you’ll likely find a full trailhead and trails packed with hikers.

Hike the Graveyard Fileds Loop to tumbling waterfalls and beautiful views from Graveyard Ridge in western NCAbove: hike to the popular Graveyard Fields waterfalls and beautiful views from Graveyard Ridge

This six-mile adventure explores the highlights of the the popular 3-mile hike on the Graveyard Fields Trail, including ultra-popular waterfalls. But it also offers some bonus distance and some excellent views, making a side trek on the scenic Graveyard Ridge Trail to catch some stunning views.

Hike Graveyard Fields, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in western NC, to beautiful waterfalls and gorgeous views from the Graveyard Ridge Trail

This longer route adds some beautiful views of the nearby Black Balsam Knob and explores some seemingly endless, sprawling thickets of wild blueberries and blackberries. The hike explores stunningly diverse landscapes, visiting a creek valley, sun-drenched ridge, lush meadows and two waterfalls. It’s a six-mile twist on the classic Graveyard Fields hike, visiting the area’s highlights while scoring some relative serenity, too.

Graveyard Fields Loop at Graveyard Ridge: the hike

The hike starts at a trailhead just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (view maps and driving directions), departing from the eastern edge of the parking area. The trail dives away from the Parkway into a gnarled, dense forest of rhododendron and mountain laurel, and then crosses a bridge over Yellowstone Prong. The clear-flowing river carves into the rocky terrain and tumbles between large, scattered boulders.

After crossing the bridge, the hike veers right at the next two trail intersections to visit the multi-tiered ‘Second Falls’ waterfall. The hike descends a series of wooden ramps and stairs, reaching Second Falls at .3 mile.

Hike to the Graveyard Fields Second Falls on a six-mile loop at this scenic stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC

Departing the waterfall, the hike backtracks to the intersection with the Mountains to Sea Connector trail, turning right on the Mountains to Sea access trail and traveling northeast. The hike rolls elevation through mounded, grassy forest filled with tall fern, veering left at a trail intersection at .5 mile. The hike climbs steadily, arcing westbound and passing several wide-trunked, old-growth oak and balsam trees.

Hike the Graveyard Ridge Trail to beautiful views of Graveyard Fields, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in western NC

The trail continues to climb, crossing through thickets blackberry bushes and reaching a signed intersection at 1 mile. The hike turns left at the intersection, traveling southwest on the Graveyard Ridge Trail. The hike continues westbound, passing a trail intersection with the Graveyard Ridge Connector Trail at 1.2 miles. Views of the surrounding vast, rolling meadows extend to the south.

 


The hike catches views of nearby Black Balsam Knob at 1.9 miles, and meets a grassy clearing at 2.2 miles, an intersection with the Mountains to Sea Trail. At this intersection, this hike turns, retracing its steps eastbound, and turns right at 3.25 miles, following the Graveyard Ridge Connector southbound.

The trail meanders as it descends, turning west at 3.6 miles to hike to the Upper Falls. The hike crosses a boardwalk and through several shallow creek crossings before climbing through a root and boulder-filled terrain to reach the upper waterfall at 4.8 miles.

Hike to the Upper Falls at Graveyard Fields, one of the most popular hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC

A boulder-filled river bed and well-worn, carved rock frame the towering upper falls as it tumbles from a tall, balsam-capped cliff. The upper falls is one of our all-time faves for an early morning breakfast on the Blue Ridge Parkway – and with just over a mile left in this hike, it’s a great place to take a breather and soak up some scenic beauty.

Departing the upper falls, the hike retraces its steps, hiking eastbound toward the Graveyard Fields trailhead. At 5.7 miles, the hike hangs a right, crossing a bridge over Yellowstone Prong and climbing through a densely shaded forest of gnarly-branched rhododendron.

Hike Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway, exploring beatiful rhododendron tunnels on the Graveyard Ridge Loop near Asheville, NC

The hike reaches sudden sunlight at just over 6 miles, exiting the trail at the trailhead and completing the adventure.

Note: Due to heavy use and erosion, the trails at Graveyard Fields are routinely updated and rerouted. Follow posted trail signs and trail maps for the most current trail routing. As always, don’t climb on, near or around waterfalls – the rock, when wet, can be extremely slippery (and dangerous). And please pack out everything you packed in to preserve the remarkable beauty of this wilderness.

More nearby hiking adventures on the Blue Ridge Parkway

This section of the Pisgah National Forest is ultra-scenic, rugged and beautiful, and it’s one of our all-time favorite hiking areas south of Asheville, NC. Explore some stunning waterfalls downriver on the Yellowstone Prong, and visit the popular summertime swimming hole at Skinny Dip Falls. Hike to stunning summit views on the nearby Sam Knob Trail, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 420 on Black Balsam Knob Rd. Or catch endless 360-degree panoramas from the treeless, wildflower and blackberry-covered summit of Black Balsam Knob on the Art Loeb Trail.

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Graveyard Fields Loop on the Graveyard Ridge Trail Map, Directions & Details

Graveyard Fields Loop on the Graveyard Ridge Trail Map
Graveyard Fields Loop on the Graveyard Ridge Trail Map
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions


Parking

Parking is available at the trailhead parking area 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.)

GPS Coordinates

35.320383, -82.847050     //     N35 19.223 W82 50.823

Elevation Profile

Graveyard Fields Loop on the Graveyard Ridge Trail: Elevation Profile
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Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

 
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.
 
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