Graveyard Fields Loop including Upper Falls
Graveyard Fields is a beautiful and interesting open field area along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a rare, high altitude (~ 5,000ft) field, with the beautiful river (the Yellowstone Prong) running through it. It has gorgeous waterfalls at either end and many scenic hiking trails.
Park at the popular, main parking area, which is one of the few spots along the Parkway to have good toilets. This hike first descends to the extremely popular Second Falls before climbing up to Upper Falls, at the upper end of Graveyard Fields.
The Second, or Lower Falls, is just a 1/3 of a mile hike from the parking area. Find the beginning of the trail next to the restroom facilities. You will descend a paved walkway through rhododendron to reach a junction with a spur to the Mountains to Sea Trail. Turn right at this junction (the Mountain to Sea Trails heads upward).
You will descend a long section of steps to the viewing platform for the Lower Falls. Follow steps and a wooden boardwalk to the base of the Second Falls. The adventurous can carefully climb onto the rocks and large boulders for a closer view. Caution is advised anytime leaving the platform! Rocks can be slippery and currents fast and strong!
There are lots of great photo opportunities here, so bring your camera or phone!
Retrace your steps to the MST junction and follow the trail upriver. There are many side paths made by blueberry pickers but the main route is usually obvious. Pass a trail to the left (west) which will be your return route. The trail becomes somewhat rocky as it approaches Upper Falls, which descend 60 feet over ledges. Note that near the Upper Falls, the trail forks, with the left path heading to lower sections, and the right forks heads to the base of the main drop of the falls. The right fork avoids some steep, slick rock sections.
To return to the parking area, retrace your steps and take the trail to the right that you passed earlier. It leads to the west end of the parking area. During blueberry season the local bears will be active.
Follow the Blue Ridge Parkway to mile 418.8. Get there early to get good parking!
This is a great family hike!
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