Raven Rock Falls
updated 6-1-08 - If you're in the Lake Toxaway area and only have time to check out 1 waterfall, Raven Rock would be a good one. I knew the state had been working on the gravel part of Cold Mountain Road, so I decided to revisit the falls to make sure these directions were up to date. This waterfall is on private property owned by Lake Toxaway Estates. I'm still pleased to report that there aren't any 'no trespassing signs, but this is subject to change at any time. Please be respectful of this and all places you visit!
Directions: From the intersection of Hwys 64 and 178 west of Brevard in Rosman, continue west on Hwy 64 up the mountain for 8 miles and turn right on Hwy 281 north. Drive about a mile and bear left on Cold Mountain Rd across from the fire station. This is also the way to the east entrance of Panthertown Valley. Cold Mountain Rd begins as pavement and passes by some very expensive homes around the lake - part of Lake Toxaway Estates. After passing most of the homes, the road used to be gravel, but has recently been surfaced. At 4 miles from the turn, you'll pass Shower Falls right next to the road on the right. It needs recent rain to have any kind of flow.
My previous directions said all of the utility poles had numbers on them and I sent you on up to pole #61 which is 4.7 miles from the turn. As the state was widening the road, the poles were being replaced and I noticed very few now had numbers. Luckily tho, #61 still has the number on it, but I can't promise that it will in the future. It's on the left - pull just past the pole and park, or park just a little farther up on the right. The trail is fairly obvious and heads down the bank. After a short distance, the trail from the road meets another trail - bear right here. Pass a side trail to the left with a number on a round marker nailed to a tree. It's less than 10 minutes to the waterfall, but the trail is kind of steep in places and will be slippery if wet. You'll pass this small falls on the right side of the trail as you cross the feeder creek at it's base.
A little farther down the trail, you'll cross a small bridge that goes behind a falls that free falls about 15-20 feet. This is Cold Mountain Branch and it slides down more rocks for about another 75 feet before joining the Toxaway River just below Raven Rock Falls. I had dubbed this the 'Bridge of Death' because it was in really bad shape and looked like it could collapse at any time. The picture below is from 2003. On my previous visit in 2006, trees had fallen over this falls and were hanging over the bridge and the railing had fallen off. I was please to see that someone has come in and replaced the flooring of the bridge. There's still no railing, but stay close to the rock wall and you should be OK - just don't hit your head on the rock near the end!
The Bridge of Death - 2003
As soon as you cross the bridge, the trail follows Cold Mountain Branch down the right side. Some of the rock here has collapsed, so pay attention to your footing. If you fall you will probably die. There's only a few steps of this, then the trail veers right and down towards the base of the falls. Raven Rock Falls is a beauty - the river free falls 15-20 feet then spills another 20 feet over rock layered with dark and light colors called Toxaway or Carolina gneiss. The river then drops another 100 feet or so over some large rocks and boulders as it heads towards the lake.
If you like exploring and walking in the water, continue down the river to see some nice cascades. You may notice remnants of the Toxaway Trail. It crossed the river (more like a creek at this elevation) quite a few times and you'll probably have to get your feet wet at some point if you try to follow it. It eventually passes by Fisher Falls pictured below. Remember, this is all private property so be on your best behavior!
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