September brings a welcome reprieve from the dog days of summer.
With mountaintops and waterfalls just a quick drive from Greenville, your ideal hike is calling. Fill your water bottle, pack a picnic—it’s a perfect time to get outside.
GRAVEYARD FIELDS: The hike even the kids will love
The waterfall views at Graveyard Fields are spectacular, but the hike itself may steal the show. Just follow the path of blueberry bushes, which when in season you can pick as you walk along the boardwalk. If you need a break to cool down, head over to the swimming hole for a dip. You can follow the Graveyard Fields Loop for miles, but the 1/3-mile trek to the Lower Falls makes this a sweet family-friendly adventure.
// PARK: In the lot or alongside the road at milepost 418.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.
// HIKE: For a longer stint or a short jaunt—the walk to the Lower Falls is 1/3 of a mile, but you can continue for a mile to the Upper Falls or take the four-mile Graveyard Fields Loop.
FALLS CREEK FALLS: The skip-the-gym hike
Tucked away just half an hour past Travelers Rest, this hidden gem is rarely crowded, but ideal for a tough hike and a gorgeous view without the long drive. The 1.7 miles to the top are almost com-pletely uphill, so by the time you reach the falls, you’ll feel you’ve gotten your daily workout in. Take your time wading in the water under the falls and enjoy its refreshing mist.
// PARK: In front of the trailhead sign or alongside the road at Falls Creek Falls Road, Marietta, SC.
// HIKE: Simply start at the trailhead on Falls Creek Falls Road, and follow the challenging 1.7 miles to the waterfall.
PINNACLE PARK TRAIL: The full-day hiking reprieve
Just under a two-hour drive from Greenville, this steep hike will give you a perfect excuse to escape to the mountains for a day. Sure to take your breath away, the strenuous hike is scenic the whole way up. At the top awaits a rocky overlook, a front-row seat to a stunning show of mountains rolling far and wide.
// PARK: In the lot at the end of Fisher Creek Road, Sylva, NC.
// HIKE: Follow signage for 3.5 miles to the Pinnacle.
CRAGGY GARDENS PINNACLE TRAIL: The sunset picnic hike
Take a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway during golden hour and pull over at Craggy Gardens, home to a stunning 360-degree panoramic mountain view. You’ll watch the open sky erupt with color as the sun sinks behind the vast landscape. Don’t forget to bring a blanket and cozy up—at an altitude of 5,892 feet, even September evenings can be chilly when the sun goes down.
// PARK: In the lot at milepost 364.1 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.
// HIKE: Follow signs for the Pinnacle Trail, and in just ¾ mile, you’ll reach a viewing area with stone walls. Don’t be afraid to hop over them and lean against a large westward-facing rock.
CATAWBA FALLS: The hike you can take at your own speed
A shady, pleasant walk to the Lower Falls makes this hike accessible and family-friendly. But if you’re looking for a challenge, continue past the Lower Falls for a steep, rocky climb (at one point you’ll pull a rope to help you up a smooth, slanted rock). The short but intense journey lands you underneath the powerful 50-foot Upper Falls, which pour into a wading pool you might feel like cannonballing into.
// PARK: In the lot at the end of Catawba River Road in Old Fort, NC, just off of I-40, Exit 73.
// HIKE: 1.5 miles to the Lower Falls; ½ mile more to the Upper Falls.