Upper Falls (Graveyard Fields)

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, USA

About Upper Falls (Graveyard Fields)


Hiking Distance: 3.2-4 miles loop; some scrambling
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2012-10-17
Date last visited: 2012-10-17

Waterfall Latitude: 35.31827
Waterfall Longitude: -82.86764

Regarding Upper Falls in the Graveyard Fields, I suppose I could have combined this page with that of Second Falls.

However, considering that it was quite a bit of a detour just to reach this waterfall, I decided to put it on its own so as to not clutter the other page.

Graveyard_Fields_041_20121017 - The Upper Falls in the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike
The Upper Falls in the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike

In any case, this was the second waterfall we visited while hiking the Graveyard Fields.

I’m guessing that this waterfall was 60-70ft tall, but as you can see from the photo above, it wasn’t all that impressive, especially when you factor in the amount of work it took to get here along with how much more impressive the Second Falls looked by comparison.

Hiking down to the Second Falls

We managed to reach the Upper Falls as part of completeling the Graveyard Fields loop hike after initially hiking to Second Falls.

After meandering amongst a combination of boardwalks and dirt trail while surrounded by a mix of bare and colorful low-lying trees and brush, we took a signposted junction on our right after roughly 0.8 miles or so from Lower Falls.

Graveyard_Fields_021_20121017 - The colorful yet eerie display of reds flanking the boardwalk through the Graveyard Fields between the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls
The colorful yet eerie display of reds flanking the boardwalk through the Graveyard Fields between the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls

Almost immediately after taking the fork on the right, we then encountered another fork, where we went left.

At this point, the trail became a long out-and-back spur as it gradually got muddier with a few minor stream crossings en route.

We swore this part of the trail seemed like it went on forever (my map and GPS log indicated that it might be a little over a mile each way), and this was then exacerbated by the final scramble to even get to a view of the Upper Falls.

We were fortunate to have met other people coming back from the falls, because they warned us about how deceptively easy it was to miss the actual Upper Falls.

Graveyard_Fields_026_20121017 - Looks like we're still on the right track as we took this spur eventually to the Upper Falls at the Graveyard Fields
Looks like we’re still on the right track as we took this spur eventually to the Upper Falls at the Graveyard Fields

If it wasn’t for this warning, we could’ve mistaken a smaller cascade just downstream from the hidden Upper Falls as the final destination.

The trick was that when the trail seemingly ended at a stream crossing at the base of the small cascade, we had to find a way above that smaller cascade as the Upper Falls was just upstream from it.

So we found a steep (almost scrambling) trail of use off to the right side of the cascade.

Some people managed to scramble up on the left side of the cascade, but given how slippery the rocks were, that didn’t appear to be a very safe option.

Graveyard_Fields_030_20121017 - The slippery rocks downstream of the hidden Upper Falls, where we had to find a way further up to find the actual waterfall here
The slippery rocks downstream of the hidden Upper Falls, where we had to find a way further up to find the actual waterfall here

After some persistent scrambling, we’d eventually pick up some faint use trails that continued weaving its way through a combination of boulders and overgrowth on steep slopes.

Fortunately at the end of this scramble, we were right in front of the Upper Falls standing on some large rocks in the middle of the narrow stream.

Returning back to the main trail, we continued on the loop as it wound its way back to the Graveyard Fields parking lot.

It was said that the loop was 3.2 miles, but I suspect that the additional distance to cover both waterfalls felt a lot more like we went between 4-5 miles.

Graveyard_Fields_048_20121017 - After having our fill of the Upper Falls in the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike, we then returned to the main loop trail to complete it
After having our fill of the Upper Falls in the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike, we then returned to the main loop trail to complete it

However, none of the literature that’s out there seems to support this statement.

Nonetheless, we managed to go from Lower Falls (Second Falls) to the Upper Falls and back to the trailhead in about 100 minutes, including taking photos.

Authorities

Upper Falls of the Graveyard Fields resides in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard in Haywood County, North Carolina. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website or Facebook page.

Graveyard_Fields_017_20121017 - Looking back at the trail well after we left the Lower Falls
Graveyard_Fields_018_20121017 - There were some standing pools of water on the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike probably left over from some rains that occurred earlier in the week
Graveyard_Fields_023_20121017 - Julie walking on a flat and wide open portion of the Graveyard Fields which displayed fiery reds along the trail
Graveyard_Fields_027_20121017 - Still hiking amidst the Graveyard Fields, we now found ourselves on a spur path taking us out to the Upper Falls
Graveyard_Fields_028_20121017 - Finally leaving the Graveyard Fields Loop Hike for the spur to Upper Falls
Graveyard_Fields_029_20121017 - We got to a point where the trail started to get muddy and partially flooded
Graveyard_Fields_031_20121017 - In order to avoid the slippery rocks downstream of Upper Falls, we decided to scramble our way up to the Upper Falls
Graveyard_Fields_035_20121017 - Julie checks out the Upper Falls of the Graveyard Fields, finally!
Graveyard_Fields_042_20121017 - Julie making it down the first series of steps to cross over a footbridge before descending the next series of steps by the Second Falls
Graveyard_Fields_043_20121017 - View looking downstream into the Graveyard Fields from the Upper Falls
Graveyard_Fields_048_20121017 - Finally back at the Graveyard Fields Hiking Loop Trail
Graveyard_Fields_049_20121017 - Julie on the boardwalk in the home stretch leading back to the parking lot for the Graveyard Fields

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Since this waterfall shares the same trailhead as Second Falls, we’ll punt you over to that page for specific directions.

As for some geographical context, Brevard, North Carolina was 35 miles (under an hour drive) south of Asheville, North Carolina, 47 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Greenville, South Carolina, and 126 miles (2.5 hours drive) west of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Right to left sweep starting with the downstream scenery then ending at the upper falls


Fixated on the upper falls

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Tagged with: blue ridge, parkway, haywood county, north carolina, graveyard fields, waterfall, asheville, brevard, autumn colors, fall colors, yellowstone prong



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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