While some of the paths can be muddy and poorly maintained, Graveyard Fields Loop has lots to offer. Two waterfalls, berry picking in the late summer, and wading pools make this hike an excellent choice!
Graveyard Fields has a dubious name, but not to worry — there’s not an actual graveyard. If a zombie uprising takes place, you should be relatively safe here. Graveyard Fields is a high and flat mountain valley that’s just south of Mount Pisgah. Decades ago, loggers left a huge mass of stumps behind that grew mossy and began to resemble a long-unattended graveyard.
Graveyard Fields is home to the trail of the same name. The hike is a little over 3 miles long and is moderately difficult, so allow at least two hours. The elevation gain is about 450 feet. In wet weather, some areas are downright impassible without skirting the main trail a bit. The paths are well-defined, however. Graveyard Fields Loop connects to a few other trails, so watch your turns.
From the parking lot, take the stairs down to the paved path through the rhododendron until you arrive at a viewing platform. More stairs will take you to a bridge that spans Yellowstone Creek. Once you cross the bridge, the trail splits. Heading right takes you directly to Lower Falls, and turning left will eventually lead to Upper Falls.
The short hike to Lower Falls is about a quarter of a mile. You’ll find a set of wooden steps and a deck at the base of the waterfall. This is a popular swimming spot and can get very crowded during the summer months. Folks will often hike to Lower Falls, take in a swim or picnic, and head back home. Lower Falls is about 55 feet high and spills into a crystal pool.
Once you’ve fully enjoyed Lower Falls, head back the way you came. When you get to the fork, you’ll see a new-looking boardwalk on the right. You’ll soon see a small set of steps that leads up to the trail to Upper Falls. Next, you’ll find yourself in a high meadow that’s thick with blueberry bushes.
About a quarter-mile past the bridge is the Graveyard Ridge Connector Trail going off to the right. Keep heading straight for another quarter of a mile or so. Again, you’ll want to head straight to get to Upper Falls. Watch for a split in the trail near a pile of boulders. Get to the base of the falls by going right.
While the 40-foot Upper Falls may not be as impressive as the one you previously viewed, the trek through the lovely meadows and the open vistas it provides makes it well worth the trip. Lower Falls is smaller, but it’s a cascade waterfall that is quite lovely and impressive. Some may consider it more gorgeous than the multitiered Lower Falls. When you’ve finished taking in the spectacle, loop back to your starting point.
The Graveyard Fields trail connects with the larger Mountains to Sea Trail, so be sure you don’t take a wrong turn. If you’re looking to expand upon your trip, get yourself a Mount Pisgah trail map and hike the area all day long.
Overall, Graveyard Fields Loop has a lot to offer for such a relatively short hike. Wild blackberries and blueberries are a family favorite for many visitors. Dense rhododendron and mountain laurel flourish here. The trails offer a nice mix of open meadows and sunlight-streaked tree canopies.
-Take a picture of the map at the trailhead before you begin. The interconnection of trails in this area makes it easy to take wrong turns.
-This trail is very popular, so if you visit on weekends, you’re likely to face quite a throng.
-Be mindful of the “No Parking” signs! They ticket regularly.
-To experience an explosion of rhododendron, visit in June. If you’re looking to pick berries, visit during the late summer. The crowds strip the bushes bare of ripe fruit, so get an early start. The fall colors are best viewed during the first half of October.