A September Grab-Bag from our Asheville, NC Bed and Breakfast →
Graveyard Fields: One of the Best Hikes off the Blue Ridge Parkway
September 17, 2011 by Susan Murray
The last hike James and I went on, to John Rock, was rated “more difficult” on our website of hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And while it was a wonderful hike with many changes in topography and altitude, James and I were interested in finding a hike where guests could see some of the mountains and waterfalls in a less strenuous manner.
Graveyard Fields is about 30 minutes from the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina, just after milepost 418. Sadly, the geographical feature for which it was named no longer exists. About 500 years ago something caused the forest to topple and the resulting stumps rotted, leaving odd mounds of dirt which resembled tombstones. This held true until a forest fire in 1925 swept through the area, once again wiping out the trees and the mounds. But while the “graveyard” has disappeared, the broad valley with its low ground cover gives the hiker an easy walk with many views of the surrounding mountains. The area is especially popular in August when the many blueberry bushes are heavy with fruit and you are free to pick up to a gallon of them for your own use. Of course by the time we got there in September the birds, bears and tourists had pretty much cleared them out!
There are three waterfalls one can hike to, the first being a short .3 miles away. After passing through a rhododendron tunnel (which must be glorious when in bloom), you descend down a wooden stairway to the base of the falls. Even though it was a slightly overcast afternoon and not more than 65 degrees out, there was still a couple swimming in the cold water at the base. During the summer, this is a crowded and popular spot but fewer people venture on to the Upper Falls which is a hike of about a mile up the trail.
As I mentioned before, the scrubby undergrowth in the valley allows one to see the mountains around you as you hike, a relative rarity when hiking in the mountains where you are often among the trees. The trees are just barely beginning to change color up here, harbingers of what is supposed to be a very good season for leaf lovers this year.
It took James and I about 40 minutes to climb up to the Upper Falls. We passed no one on the way up, although we did meet a few couples heading that way when we descended. Arriving at the Falls I have to admit it didn’t look like much. Our trail guide did suggest climbing the rocks along the side to the top if it were dry enough. One needs to be very careful if deciding to do this as slippery, wet rocks can be very dangerous. James and I were able to see a clear path so leaving our camera and other gear at the bottom (to be sure to have two free hands), we gingerly picked our way to the top.
I am so glad we did! Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it but the true fall is hidden behind the rocks next to James in the picture below and it frames a view of mountains and sky which is just lovely. The sun even decided to come out for us!
So there you have it: proof that not every hike near Asheville involves getting lost, wet, or working too hard!