ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Graveyard Fields & Waterfalls, North Carolina
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Graveyard Fields & Waterfalls, North Carolina
Waterfall at Graveyard Fields
A stunning waterfall that roars down from the
Graveyard Fields area, this beautiful scene is easily
accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Graveyard Fields Waterfall
The waterfall is along the
North Carolina section of the
Blue Ridge Parkway.
Spectacular Waterfall
The lower fall is accessed by
stairs and a short trail leading
down from the Blue Ridge
Graveyard Fields & Falls - Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Magnificent Falls on the Parkway
Historic Graveyard Fields
The area takes its name from
a section of mountain country
damaged long ago by a
tornado. As fallen trees
decayed, the left behind
mounds of earth that looked
like graves.
Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
The rushing waterfalls at Graveyard Fields,
despite the distinctly sombre name, are
among the most beautiful sights along the
Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

The Graveyard Fields parking area is at mile
418.8 along the southern section of the
parkway. The overlook is about 37 miles
south down the parkway from Asheville,
North Carolina.

The "fields" take their unique name from a
cataclysmic event that took place there
centuries ago. Researchers say that a
tornado or high winds destroyed a stand of
heavy trees in a valley surrounded by
mountains, some of which reach over 6,000
feet in height.

As the toppled trees slowly decayed, the dirt
turned up with their roots collapsed into
mounds that resembled giant graves. When
early settlers explored the area they found the
unusual setting and quickly noted how much
it resembled a graveyard.  

The area surrounding Graveyard Fields was
logged during the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. In 1925 a massive wildfire swept
through the region, leveling the brushy
growth back to the bare ground. Since that
time, the forest has been very slow to recover
and as a result Graveyard Fields still appear
bare, especially when viewed from above.

The area is now part of the Pisgah National
Forest and is one of the most popular stops
along the Southern half of the Blue Ridge
Parkway. Part of the reason for this is that the
paved path leading down from the parking
area and overlook provides access to two of
the most beautiful waterfalls to be found
along the parkway.

The beautiful mountain stream that flows
through Graveyard Fields is called the
Yellowstone Prong, a headwater of the
Pigeon River. This crystal clear water
eventually joins with that from other streams
to become the mighty Tennessee River.

Spanish explorers led by Hernando de Soto
visited some of these mountain streams in
1540 and the chroniclers of his expedition
somehow recognized that the rushing waters
eventually fed the mighty Mississippi River.
Likely they obtained this information from the
ancestors of the Cherokee, for whom this
region is an ancestral home.

The exact route of de Soto's crossing of the
Blue Ridge is heavily disputed and there is
no indication that the riddle will be solved any
time soon. Some firmly believe that he
passed well to the north of Graveyard Fields,
others that he passed to the south. Unless
dramatic new discoveries are made, there is
no way of telling for sure. And even then the
discoveries are likely to be disputed, as other
Spanish explorers led by Juan Pardo also
traveled through the mountains.
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The easiest of the waterfalls to access is
Second Falls, which is just below the parking
area and overlook.

To reach it, follow the clearly identified paved
path down from the right hand side of the
parking area. It leads through a fascinating
natural tunnel of rhododendron and the total
hike is only 0.3 miles. As you go down the
path, you will come to wooden stairs, follow
them down to a footbridge that leads over the
water of Yellowstone Prong. The setting here
is quite scenic and there are even small falls
at the crossing.

Once across the bridge, follow the boardwalk
and trail which lead to the right (don't confuse
this for the offramp which leads to the main
Graveyard Fields Loop). You will parallel the
stream and quickly come to wooden stairs
that lead 60 steps down to an overlook at the
bottom of the falls. The photos on this page
were taken there.

To reach the second waterfall is a bit more of
a hike. Retrace your steps but instead of
crossing the foot bridge, follow the trail
straight ahead. Follow the path until it splits
and veer to the right. Upper Falls will be just

Please click here to visit the National Forest
Service page on Graveyard Fields and the
Some Photography by Alan P. Cox