Last updated: March 2, 2023
Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Restroom - Accessible, Restroom - Seasonal, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trailhead, Trash/Litter Receptacles
Hike into a mile-high valley featuring spectacular waterfalls surrounded by rolling ridges. This is a very popular area, so be prepared to share the trail with others.
Graveyard Fields is an extremely popular hiking area. Easy trail access is from the Graveyard Fields Overlook at Milepost 418.8 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the property is managed by Pisgah National Forest. Finding a parking spot on a weekend or during a busy time of year requires an early start to the day, a great deal of patience, or the willingness to park a significant distance away and walk on the road to the overlook. Signs on the roadsides clearly mark where motorists can and cannot park. Cars attempting to park in restricted areas have rolled over the edge down a steep embankment! Please do not put yourself or your family in danger. If the parking lot is full, visit one of the other hiking areas available along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Be sure to investigate your options before you embark on your journey.
A sign at Graveyard Fields explains one theory behind its strange name. Many years ago, a windstorm uprooted the forest, leaving behind stumps that gave the area the appearance of a graveyard. Other theories include that logging in the early 20th century, prior to the area being under management of the US Forest Service, left tree stumps covered in moss resembling gravestones. Later, the Graveyard Fields area burned, destroying the stumps.
The headwaters of the Yellowstone Prong, a tributary of the Pigeon River, originate in the mile-high valley. The two waterfalls in the Graveyard Fields area are accessible from the trailhead near the vault toilets in the overlook on the Parkway. The trail descends steps that give way to an asphalt path, necessary due to the amount of use the area receives. Many parts of the trail beyond the asphalt portion have been worn into deep ruts which are often muddy due to the frequency of precipitation. A trail map is available in the overlook parking lot. Familiarize yourself with the general loop trail prior to hiking. “Social trails” (or illegal trails) have been created over the years, which can make navigating confusing. Please do not compound this problem by going off the established trails. The 1.2-mile loop trail is rated as easy overall, however the “spur” trails to the waterfalls are steep and add additional mileage to the hike. Climbing on and near waterfalls is dangerous. Rocks near waterfalls are notoriously slippery.
If you don't mind crowds, Graveyard Fields is an appealing hiking area for a variety of reasons. The Graveyard Fields Loop Trail is a reasonable hiking distance for families, including children, and includes waterfalls. It offers a variety of different plants, shrubs, and trees, as well as bird and wildlife diversity for natural history buffs. The trail connects to other trails in the valley and beyond, allowing further exploration for those who want a longer hike.
Camping is not allowed in the Graveyard Fields area. During the season, the nearest National Park Service campground is located at Mount Pisgah. Dispersed camping is allowed nearby at Black Balsam and in the Shining Rock Wilderness. Contact Pisgah National Forest for camping information and regulations. During the winter season, the Blue Ridge Parkway may be closed in this area due to ice and snow.