Monday, October 20, 2014

Pisgah National Forest: Graveyard Fields Loop

Sierra was in the backpack and we were on the trail hiking along when out of nowhere Sierra said "This is a happy day!" Was she ever right on the mark with that statement. She's a smart girl!

The day started in Greeneville looking gray with the threat of rain. We decided to go to Asheville anyway. I loaded up our recyclables, we packed Sierra's backpack and diaper bag and hit the road. The ride was uneventful and by the time we had crossed into North Carolina the sky was blue. The best part of all was the fact that Sierra did not get car sick! We dropped off our recyclables and then headed into downtown Asheville to eat lunch at Wicked Weed. We arrived before the noon opening and checked out some of the pumpkins outside
cutie with pumpkin
before heading in for a delicious lunch and really good ales.
eating pretzels

After lunch we headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway for our longer-than-expected drive to Graveyard Fields. The colors around 3,500-4,000 feet were peak. Lower there were still a lot of green leaves and at 5,000 to 6,000 feet there were lots of bare trees. I think that windy storm about a week ago prematurely blew a lot of the foliage down. When we arrived at the Graveyard Fields parking lot we found it packed. We parked at a legal spot along the side of the road and then hit the trail.
graveyard fields TH
Although the color was past peak, the weather was excellent. It was the type of weather that you wait for all year long. Not too hot and no humidity.

We hiked through a tunnel of rhododendron,
noelle in rhododendron
crossed Yellowstone Prong on a bridge,
noelle at creek
and headed over to the Second or Lower Falls
On to Lower Falls
first which was a short downhill walk (with lots of stairs)
Noelle on stairs
from the parking area. There were lots of other people out enjoying the fine weather and fall scenery.
Lower Falls
We did not spend too much time at the falls before we turned around
noelle on boardwalk
and headed over to the Graveyard Fields Loop.
Noelle on the trail
The loop started off with some really nice scenery. It would have been especially nice had we caught the foliage in peak color. There were great views of Graveyard Ridge and the surrounding mountains. We then hiked along on a boardwalk
Sierra and Eric on boardwalk
before heading back into the woods.
Noelle and mountain

We left the loop and hiked a spur to the Upper Falls. At the Upper Falls (or at least the bottom part of the Upper Falls)
upper Falls
Sierra insisted on dipping her piggies in the water. I did not want to let her do it at first, but I eventually gave in as I realized it was not too cold and this would likely be her last chance to dip her toes in the water in a while.
piggies in water
After toe dipping, Sierra ate a snack
snack time
before we put her back in the backpack for the hike back to the car. We crossed over Yellowstone Prong one more time
creek and mountain
and were treated to some wonderful views of the mountains from the parking lot.
distant mountain view
We headed back to Greeneville via I-40 and US-321, essentially making our drive one big loop.                 

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