041 – Second Falls

Accessibility – Easy

Height: Approx 55′

Distance – 0.4 Miles (out and back)

Beauty – 8

Photo rating – 7

Solitude – 5

GPS Info: LAT 35.3221 LONG -82.8416

Last updated – 04/01/2017

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Access to Graveyard Fields is at mile 418.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway but before we get to the parking area, stop at the East Fork Overlook at mile 418.3. The overlook provides sensational views of the surrounding mountains and if you look to your left you can see Yellowstone Prong as it crashes down Second Falls. Park in the Graveyard Fields Parking Area. There are facilities and trashcans as well as parking for 40-45 cars.

Second Falls is the most popular of the waterfalls at Graveyard Fields. Owing to the fact its easy to get to, the 0.40 mile round trip on an asphalt path and boardwalks is suitable for all ages and accessibility levels. Upper and Lower Falls are a relatively easy hike but it is about 3 miles round trip. Yellowstone Falls is less than an a mile downstream but very difficult to get to. The area at the base of the falls makes a great swimming hole and in the summer you will want to get here early if you want to take a picture.

To get to Second Falls take the steps down to the left of the bathrooms. An asphalt trail snakes down the hill to a wooden bridge over Yellowstone Prong. In drier times, like when I was here in July, the large flat section of rock around the bridge is cool to explore. On my December visit, water levels were up and any foray onto the rocks would likely end badly as top of Second Falls is close by. At the intersection, the trail to Upper Falls goes left, stay to the right and make your way down the steps to the observation deck. From the deck your options are limitless. You can venture onto any of the boulders below the pool or even wade into the water for a shot. The only difficulty you’ll have is getting a decent shot without a bunch of people in it. The other challenge is the light. The falls are out in the open so the glare off the water can be tricky.

When I visited Second Falls in July 2015 but I couldn’t get a decent shot because there were so many people, including one gentleman doing backflips into the collection pool. On my December 2015 trip to Yellowstone Falls I had the opportunity to visit Second Falls on my way to and from Yellowstone Falls. I stopped to take pictures both times from about every possible boulder because there was no one there! It just doesn’t happen. Even when I visited in October of 2015, there were so many people that getting a good shot was out of the question.

The collection pool at Second Falls – December 2015
Second Falls from a downstream vantage – December 2015
A potential ‘Hey y’all, watch this’ moment – Second Falls – July 2015