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: -82.8576

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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.

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 photos on this page, it wasn’t all that impressive, especially when compared with Second Falls and when you factor in the amount of work it took to get here.

We managed to reach this waterfall by completeling the Graveyard Fields loop after 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), which led almost immediately to another fork, where we then went left.

Graveyard_Fields_026_20121017 - Looks like we're still on the right track
Looks like we’re still on the right track

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 who warned us about how deceptively easy it was to miss the actual waterfall. 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.

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 narrow stream.

Returning back to the main trail, we continued on the loop as it wound its way back to the car park. 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. 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 car park in about 100 minutes, including taking photos.

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 probably left over from some rains that occurred earlier in the week
Graveyard_Fields_027_20121017 - Still hiking amidst the Graveyard Fields
Graveyard_Fields_028_20121017 - Finally leaving the loop 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_030_20121017 - The small cascade marking the point at which we had to find a way to its top
Graveyard_Fields_031_20121017 - Julie scrambling to get to Upper Falls
Graveyard_Fields_035_20121017 - Julie checks out the falls, finally!
Graveyard_Fields_043_20121017 - View looking downstream from the falls
Graveyard_Fields_048_20121017 - Finally back at the loop
Graveyard_Fields_051_20121017 - At last, we've made it back to the car park!


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

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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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