Raven Rock Falls
5-12-23 If you're in the Lake Toxaway area and only have time to check out 1 waterfall, Raven Rock would be a good one. It's also a good one to add onto a day in Panthertown Vallet The hike is only about a quarter mile, but has some steep and tricky spots. 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 US64 and NC178 west of Brevard in Rosman, continue west on US64 up the mountain for 8 miles and turn right on NC281 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. At 4 miles from the turn, you will have passed most of the homes in Lake Toxaway Estates and you'll arrive at Shower Falls right next to the road on the right. There's no place to pull of right at the falls and there has to have been a lot of rain recently for it to look good anyway. As you are driving up Cold Mountain Rd, look on the utility poles along the way for a small yellow tag with a number on it. The trail head to Raven Rock Falls is just past pole #61 which will be on the left and about 1/2 mile past Shower Falls. The trail head isn't marked, but is obvious once you get out of your vehicle. There's barely enough room for one vehicle to park on the left, but drive up a little more and you can pull off the road on the right.
The trail begins by heading down to meet up with the trail to the waterfall and another trail coming in from the left that goes down into the private development. On my last visit in 2023, there were new signs pointing the way to the waterfall which is to the right. Back in 2021, a big landslide covered a section of the trail about 5 minutes into the hike. The trail now goes up and over the slide area and on down to this small falls on the right side of the trail. Cross the small creek at the base of the falls and continue on the trail.
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 called this the 'Bridge of Death' when I added Raven Rock Falls to my site in 2003 because it was in really bad shape and looked like it could collapse at any time. On another visit in 2006, trees had fallen over this falls and were hanging over the bridge and the railing had fallen off. Someone came in and replaced the flooring of the bridge, but the rest of it kept deteriorating and got pretty scary to cross. Then in 2023, the bridge was replaced with a steel frame bridge and is now quite safe to cross. You still have to stay low and don't hit your head on the rock - especially near the end!
The Bridge of Death - 2003
As soon as you cross the bridge, the trail follows Cold Mountain Branch steeply down the right side, then 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. On my last visit, there was a lot of debris at the base of the falls and a giant dead hemlock still standing at the top of the falls that looks like it's not going to last much longer.
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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