Your Guide to Graveyard Fields Trail on The Blue Ridge Parkway
Short loop trail with waterfall spurs, swimming hole and berries ripe for picking in late summer
Graveyard Fields is a popular hiking trail near Asheville in the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. The Graveyard Fields Loop Trail and its spurs boast beautiful waterfalls, swimming holes and seasonal berry picking. It’s a very popular hike in late summer.
The trail is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and makes for an excellent day trip from Asheville or nearby areas. It’s a recommended hike on our Blue Ridge Parkway loop day trip itinerary.
Graveyard Fields Quick Facts
Trailhead location: Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 418.8
Trail length: 1.3-mile loop (Lower Falls spur +0.2 mile out and back | Upper Falls spur +1.8 mile out and back)
Difficulty: Easy (the main loop and Lower Falls Spur) to moderate (Upper Falls Spur)
Elevation change: Minimal. Loop is in a high-altitude valley. There are stairs down from the parking lot at the beginning.
Distance from downtown Asheville: 35 miles
Drive time from downtown Asheville: 50 minutes
Trail Condition: Can be muddy after heavy rain. The trail is sunny without shade in the berry field flats.
Getting to Graveyard Fields Trailhead
Graveyard Fields is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 418.8 southwest of Asheville.
The beautiful drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway takes just under an hour with plenty of sights along the way. It’s a great stop for a short hike if you want to take a Blue Ridge Parkway day trip from Asheville.
Graveyard Fields Parking
Parking is available in a paved lot just off the parkway. There is a primitive but passable restroom facility at the trailhead parking lot.
The parking lot can fill up during late summer berry season and fall leaf season, so be sure to get there early. Especially on weekends in August!
About Graveyard Fields
At over 5,000 feet in elevation, Graveyard Fields is a high-altitude valley in the Great Balsam Mountain subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area is known for its evergreen spruce and fir tree forests that cover the popular tall peaks like Black Balsam Knob, Cold Mountain and Sam Knob.
Graveyard Fields got its name from the lack of these trees caused by a combination of storms, logging and fire. The stumps covered in moss and lichen resembled tombstones, giving the valley the ominous graveyard name.
Fires later ravaged the area making it difficult for trees to reestablish a foothold. This feature has created an environment that is home to shrubs and grasses including blueberry bushes and blackberry brambles.
Graveyard Fields is also home to the Yellowstone Prong River that ushers water downstream from the Great Balsam peaks. This has created a home for two amazing waterfalls at Graveyard Fields — Upper Falls and Lower Falls (sometimes called Second Falls). What the trails lack in long-range vistas they make up for in river crossings, waterfalls and berry-picking terrain.
Graveyard fields Hike
There are several options to hike at Graveyard Fields depending on your preferences so it’s a great trail to pick your own adventure! The various trail options all start at the same trailhead.
Graveyard Fields Loop to Yellowstone Prong River
All routes begin with the Graveyard Fields Loop Trail. The Loop Trail starts with a descent down a set of stairs next to the restroom facilities. This leads to a paved wooded path that meanders for about 0.2 miles until you reach the picturesque Yellowstone Prong River.
The riverbed is made of solid rock and is a great place for kids to splash in pools and explore. Crossing the river is made easy with wooden bridges if you want to keep your feet dry.
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls Spur
Just past the river crossing, there is a spur to the right that takes you further downstream to the Lower Falls at Graveyard Fields. This short 0.2-mile out-and-back spur is worth checking out.
You’ll get to a set of stairs, or several sets of stairs, after a short hike from the main loop. The stairs lead you right to the Lower Falls area. Watch your step on the stairs because there are a few spots where boards are missing or are broken.
The Lower Falls cascade gently down rock faces where they fall into a clear pool that is a popular swimming hole. The river has large rocks and boulders that make for a great place to picnic while enjoying the waterfall.
Berry Picking At Graveyard Fields
You’ll find opportunities for berry picking just past the Lower Falls spur on the main loop trail. It’s a really popular spot in late summer for this reason.
The berries can be found along the loop trail. As you walk along the loop you will eventually emerge from a wooded river area and reach a boardwalk that is surrounded by berry bushes. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike– you’ll see several groups with buckets full of berries!
The tree coverage clears in this area making it pretty warm on those hotter summer days, so bring a hat and sunscreen!
Graveyard Fields Upper Falls Spur
Once you are past the main berry fields you will enter another wooded area. Here you’ll see a sign for the Upper Falls Trail spur. Upper Falls is a 1.8-mile out-and-back spur that takes you to Graveyard Fields’ second waterfall.
If you have the time and energy to make this trek, it’s well worth it culminating at Upper Falls, a picturesque 40-foot waterfall. The Upper Falls spur does have some elevation gain making it a moderate difficulty and harder than the easy loop trail that it branches from.
Graveyard Fields Loop Home Stretch
You’ll begin to make your way back to the parking lot after passing the spurs and the berry picking. There’s another Yellowstone Prong River crossing on the loop and then you’ll pop into another shaded area.
The trail continues to meander through the forest with some berries along the way until you reach a final set of stairs and emerge back at the trailhead parking lot.