Lower Falls Graveyard Fields is a gorgeous waterfall and swimming hole, that is accessible by a short and moderate .3 mile hike down to the falls. This waterfall is also visible from a small pull over on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just past MP418.8.
Roundtrip Distance:0.6 Miles
Handicap/Disability Accessible:Yes, from the Parkway, but the hike to the base of the falls is not handicap accessible.
Difficulty: Moderate, due to uphill climb on the way back and stairs
Features:Waterfall, Swimming Hole, Jump off rock, unique plant life, dense rhododendron thicket, gorgeous fall colors
Directions:Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 418.8 between Asheville and Waynesville NC. There is a large parking lot for the area and a bathroom building. It will be hard to miss.
Recommended Gear: Good hiking boots or shoes, Daypack, Dayhiker First Aid Kit, Sunscreen, hiking rain ponchos, some snacks, plenty of water and be sure to bring a bathing suit if you think you might want to swim.
Lower Falls Graveyard Fields Trail
Lower Falls (also called Second Falls) is one of two large waterfalls located in the Graveyard Fields area. Of the two, Lower Falls is the easiest to access from the main parking lot, and the shorter hike. Lower Falls also has a fairly large and deep pool of water below it, making it a very popular summer swimming hole.
Much of the trail down to Lower Graveyard Falls is now either pavement or wooden decking. The first part of the trail down from the parking lot is paved, and crosses through a forest of dense Rhododendron. In late April and May, the the trail is surrounded by the purple flowers.
After exiting the canopy of Rhodos, you’ll walk down a short set of wooden stairs to a bridge that crosses Yellow Prong, the creek that is the water source for both upper and lower falls, and Skinny Dip Falls as well.
To reach the falls, continue across the bridge to yellow prong, and walk along the wooden deck walkway on the other side. You’ll see a dirt trail that leads to the left, this takes you to Upper Falls about 1.5 miles away. To reach Lower Falls continue straight.
After crossing a small creek, the wooden decking will stop, and you’ll be hiking on dirt again. You’ll pass a couple of access trails to the left that lead to the Mountains to Sea Trail. You’ll also pass a few informal trails to the right that take you down to Yellow Prong and above Lower Falls. – We do not recommend doing this, as it’s dangerous.
Soon you’ll reach a long set of wooden stairs heading down. Take these, you should hear Lower Falls at this point, and reach it at the bottom of the stairs.
The area just below the falls is where people often enjoy a good swim. The water is deep enough to allow for jumping off the rocks into the water. There are also many shallow areas where younger and smaller children can safely wade and play in the water. We often bring our children here to swim, as do many others. This is a very busy and active area in Graveyard Fields as you can see by the photos taken on Labor Day in 2014.
Many people like to climb up on the actually falls and sit or jump into the water. This is not something we would recommend you do. The rocks can be very slick. Just yesterday we watched a man slip, and scratch his back up pretty bad. So be careful!
Here is the amazing view you’ll see as you come off the stairs and see the falls for the first time.
Lower Falls from the Parkway
For those that aren’t able to hike, if you don’t have time to hike, or just want a different view of the Falls, Lower is viewable from the Parkway. If you are driving towards Asheville on the Parkway, pass the main Graveyard fields parking lot. Just a little past the parking lot, you’ll see a wooden guardrail to your left, and a gravel/grass pull over to your right. Lower Falls is viewable from the guardrail.
Just be very careful, as there is a turn just past this, and cars come by fast. This location makes for an outstanding photo opportunity, especially during the fall, as seen in this photo we took a few years ago:
Lower Falls Video:
Here’s a video of Second Falls I took in the Fall of 2011:
Lower Falls Photo Gallery
We visited Graveyard Fields often, especially in the summer to let our kids swim and play in the water. As a result, we’ve taken numerous pictures of the area and falls. Here is a gallery of our photos for you to enjoy.