Last Updated on July 7, 2023
Last Updated on July 7, 2023
With two waterfalls (one among the best in NC), boardwalk views, and otherwise picturesque scenery all along the way, it’s no wonder that so many people flock to this beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains spot.
If you’re one of them, keep reading because our tips, hiking directions, when to visit Graveyard Fields, and background info detail everything you need to know about this awesome (and bucket list-worthy) place in Western North Carolina.
Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
History and Background
While the name might suggest something more ominous, this “graveyard” was formed when a massive wind storm swept through the area. Graveyard Fields refers to a mound of tree stumps that remained, poking out of the ground and resembling tombstones.
Another thing you might notice when hiking around Graveyard Fields are all the wide-open spaces, which are odd when remembering you’re in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That’s because, in 1925, a fire broke out here destroyed much of the area’s flora.
Since that fire, it’s easy to recognize that something isn’t normal but also, that nature is resilient and will rebuild.
Today’s Graveyard Fields Hikes
As we mentioned, Graveyard Fields sits right off the Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 418.8), with a parking lot that often fills up fast. As one of the few hikes on the parkway that also has a bathroom, it’s a popular stop for many who may not be hiking and just need a quick break.
There are two hikes from Graveyard Fields, and we recommend doing them both, because they both end with waterfalls! Many people often do the short hike to Lower Falls, which is just 1/3 of a mile from the parking lot.
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While it is a short hike, don’t be too fooled into thinking it’s super easy! There are quite a few steps to get down to the falls, but you’ll be happily shaded in a thick luscious patch of rhododendron.
Descend down the steps then you will cross a bridge. Make sure to stop and take in the view while on the bridge, as it is really magnificent! It is particularly beautiful during fall when the leaves are changing colors.
After crossing the bridge, you’ll see a sign for the Lower Falls directing you to right for a viewing platform of the falls. Surging from the Yellowstone Prong is the multitiered Lower Falls.
The second falls, Upper Falls, is reachable via a 3.3-mile loop, which takes you back through to the trail and to a loop to the southwest.
You’ll pass grassy fields and a boardwalk of wild blueberries. Crossing the creek several times and trekking over boulders and rocky terrain, your reward is the cascading Upper Falls.
We will say this. It is incredibly easy to get lost and turned around on this trail! We met several people who had turned around after not being sure if they were on the right path.
Tips for Hiking Graveyard Fields (Leave No Trace and Safety)
As always, please remember to pack in what you pack out and leave no trace. We value the world we live in and would like to keep it beautiful for future generations!
Also, remember that waterfalls can be extremely dangerous. Do not climb, stand, or jump from any waterfall and please stay on the path.
When to Visit
August is an extremely popular time for Graveyard Fields. The boardwalk of wild berries that is on the loop trail bursts with fruit and many love to enjoy picking them!
Because it is so hot, you will often find many people swimming at the base of Lower Falls enjoying the cold mountain water. Please remember to swim safely and that wet rocks can be slippery.
September and October are also extremely popular times since this is when the leaves are peaking. Seeing those wide-open Graveyard Fields with an extra hint of color makes this an especially wonderful hike.
Our favorite spot is on the bridge that crosses the river looking upstream.
We mention Graveyard Fields being close to Asheville, but it’s surrounded by even more adventurous spots. Many of these places were also mentioned in our guide to day trips from Asheville.
Skinny Dip Falls was once a popular waterfall and swimming hole, only a few minutes away by car. Unfortunately, it is currently closed due to damaged from Tropical Storm Fred in 2021.
The 30 mile Art Loeb Trail runs nearby and that path’s Black Balsom Knob trailhead is about a five-mile drive away from Graveyard Fields.
Other interesting hikes nearby include Sam Knob and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail-connected Devil’s Courthouse. You can also explore the waterfalls of Deep Creek Trail and the unique history behind Road to Nowhere near Bryson City.
Brevard and Transylvania County
Brevard is just 40 minutes away and southeast of Graveyard Fields. To many, it’s known as the land of waterfalls, with over 200 in its surrounding area. Some of our favorites include Looking Glass Falls and French Broad Falls (Mill Shoals), though we mentioned more here.
Another fun reason to visit Brevard is to search for their famed white squirrels. You can head over to Brevard College for a “chance” at seeing one. And don’t stop by Brevard without spending time in its cool downtown. There, you’ll find a variety of great restaurants, shops, and more things to do.
Sylva and Jackson County
To the west of Graveyard Fields sits Sylva and its surroundings in Jackson County. Stop in the mountain town of Sylva for a look down from the top of the former Jackson County Courthouse.
After enjoying that nice vantage point, spend some time at the American Museum of the House Cat or Wolf Creek Lake. Outdoor options also include Upper Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall east of the Rockies.
Read More: The NC Bucket List
Ready for the Graveyard Fields hike?
Based on all the beauty found at Graveyard Fields, it’s no wonder why this waterfall-intensive hike is so popular. It’s one of many wonderful spots in the western part of our state that keep us coming back for more. Places like this prove an escape into the mountains is something we all should seek out.
Have you ever enjoyed a Graveyard Fields hike? What do you love about this place? If you haven’t been, what’s the first thing you want to see here?