Waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

July 29th, 2018

Ashley, Daina, Riley (dog) and I

It’s been two weeks since I have hiked.  I think I was having withdrawals.  The girls agreed to go with me.  In the waterfall challenge there are 5 waterfalls in the Shining Rock area.  There are 2 at Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  If you have ever been to Graveyard Fields you know how crowded it is.  I decided if we leave at 7 we could get there park and explore before it gets to crowded.  When we got there there were parking spots left.  When we left there the parking lot was full and they were parked up and down the parkway!

The falls I am trying to see are Upper Falls and Second Falls.  There is a paved pathway down to the river and wooden bridges and walkways all the way to Second.

There were people going that way so I decided we would walk to Upper Falls which is 1.5 miles.  We head up that trail and it goes through a series of wooden walkways, muddy areas, stream crossing.  Some of this seams overgrown also which is weird for the amount of people who walk it.  This trail has lots and lots of branch trails and nothing is blazed.  We were almost to the end when we saw our first person coming back.  We were going the right way.  We arrived at a rocky area where people were sitting on the rocks and enjoying the water.  I asked one couple if this was Upper Falls and she said yes but its more of a cascade.

I was not going to believe this was a falls.  Ashley and Daina waited there while Riley and I made my way up and around the corner.  There it was Upper falls.  Riley and I took some pictures and went back down to where Daina and Ashley were.  That lady was gone so I couldn’t tell her she missed out.

On the way back I told most people I saw to keep going if they want to see the falls.  There were a lot more people coming up the trail.

We took a turn toward Graveyard Fields instead of going back the way we came.  I thought it was going to go through the fields but it didn’t it just went back to the parking lot but came up on the complete other side of it.  We walked back to the walkway and went back down to see Second Falls.  The trail to Second Falls is completly paved or a wooden walkway.  At the end it is a long set of steps.  This is a lot of steps to come up.  We went down the steps and I heard there was a swimming hole here.  It is a swimming hole but no one was swimming and it wasn’t a beach like it was all rocks.  We wanted a place for Riley to swim but this wasn’t it.

We took some pictures and headed back up the steps.  We got back to the parking lot and headed back up the parkway to the Looking Glass Rock overlook.  This is mile marker 417.  The parking lot was pretty crowded and now I know why!  I have been to the overlook so many times over the years and had no idea this little treasure was there!  Right across the road from the parking area is the marker for Mile marker 417 and a trail right at it.  The trail is only about 1/2 mile and its fairly easy.

We saw a campsite below us and Ashley said I bet that one is shorter.  I went that way as they continued down the trail.  It was NOT shorter!  It was steep down to the river then I had to climb up the river to get to where I could see Ashley and Daina. I got tired of rock hopping and just walked through the river.  When I got to them Ashley said people were cliff jumping!  OMG  I had to go see!  I followed the people up the trail and watched as this kid jumped off!  The water was so clear.

Skinny Dip Falls! It was awesome!  I could see all the rocks under the water.  It didn’t look that deep.  I asked some people they said they did not touch when they jumped.  This man jumped and I watched what he did.  Then his wife was to jump.  I said I would jump after her.  it took her awhile but she finally jumped.  It was my turn.  Then another guy and girl came up behind me.  I let them go next.  Finally I stood there and it took me  a minute or two but I finally jumped!

That was COLD!!!!!  It was stinging like needles it was so cold!  It was so awesome though.  Daina wouldn’t do it and Ashley wouldn’t do it.  I didn’t even have a change of clothes but there was no way I was going to leave here without jumping!  I would kick myself!

This place was full of people.  I would like to come here when it wasn’t so crowded.  It was beautiful and really looked out of place for the NC mountains. We walked back up the trail to the car.  I didn’t even have a towel.  I sat on a grocery bag!  There were two more falls I wanted to find. We headed back where we were got off the parkway on highway 215, went 4 miles and there was a gravel area where we pulled off. There was one car there. I took a pic of the license plate. We looked at the trail it was steep and full of blow downs. I wasn’t sure I was comfortable. So we didn’t go down. We kept saying that car belonged to a serial killer. We drove a little more and there was a waterfall on the road. It was pretty cool. We could see the “serial killer” down below it was one man. Lol we took a couple pics for in the car and headed home. That kind of trail requires Lisa and her friend Kelly!

Well didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted but it’s always a great day when I get to hang with my girls!

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