Riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway and going off on one of the trails is a great way to explore the mountains of North Carolina. Heading south on the parkway from Asheville, NC you will find many trails including Graveyard Fields at milepost 418.8. Graveyard Fields was named for the hundreds-of-years old tree stumps that looked like gravestones, which used to be found here. This area was burned in the 1920’s and has since been slowly recovering.
There are two trails at Graveyard Fields, one that follows many stairs to the lower falls and one that winds through the meadow and passes by the upper falls. The lower falls is only 1/3 mile from the parking lot and boasts of a swimming hole for the warm weather. While this trail is short it is partially composed of steep staircases.
The other trail is a 4-mile loop with a spur leading to the upper falls. Starting from the parking lot the trail is immediately surrounded with thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel with twisted, gnarly branches that provide shade. Going up the trail goes through hardwood forest and open meadow, following a slow section of stream. The open air of the meadow is crisp and refreshing. The trail is not difficult, but there are sections that are eroded and can be muddy. There are several small bridges and boardwalks spanning wet, marshy areas and places where trickles of clear mountain water flow across the path. Once at the upper falls, a bit of rock hopping will lead to an unhindered and impressive view of the cascading waters.
The fall colors are amazing here, starting in early October. Avoid the rush of summer weekends and be aware that the weather can vary vastly from that of Asheville and other lower elevation areas.
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