1-7-12 Raven Cliff Falls is a beautiful 400'+ high waterfall in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness area of upstate South Carolina near Caesar's Head. Some time around 2005, a large tree fell on the viewing deck and completely destroyed it. Instead of rebuilding the deck in that location, the State chose a new location with a diminished view of the waterfall. I've yet to hear an explanation of why this was done. The hike is still a nice one, though. It's about 2 miles to the viewing deck and is moderate in difficulty. Experienced hikers may consider it easy.
Directions: From Brevard NC, take US276 south to the NC/SC border. Continue another 1.5 miles and park in the signed lot on the left. You will pass a gravel overflow parking lot on the right, then some cabins for rent on the left before the main parking. There's a nice trail map of the area on a kiosk in the parking area. Next to it is a self serve pay station for the $2 per person fee for day use. If you plan on visiting several of the SC state parks in the span of a year, I suggest getting one of the South Carolina State Parks passports. It will pay for itself after a very few visits.
The Raven Cliff Falls trail begins across US276 from the parking area. It's blazed red and is easy to follow. At around 1.5 miles into the hike, the trail splits and you will see blue blazes for the Gum Gap Trail. There's also another map at this location and you can see that you can take the Gum Gap Trail around to the pink blazed trail that will take you to a suspension bridge at the top of Raven Cliff Falls. Continue on the red blazes towards the viewing deck. When you are almost there, the trail splits again and there will be another map. The purple blazed Dismal Trail splits off to the left and descends steeply to Matthews Creek. This next shot is a view of Raven Cliff Falls taken about 5 minutes down the Dismal Trail - that's as far as I went down that trail.
Continue on the red blazed trail a very short distance to the viewing deck. It's a really nice deck and very well built, but just not the same view as from the old deck. This next shot is from my most recent hike to the falls in January 2012. It was my first visit since the new deck was built and I wanted to get a shot without the leaves on the trees.
If you compare that shot with the first one on the page you'll see that the new view is from a different angle and is farther away. I'm planning on making a return trip when the leaves are back on to see how good the view is then. I mentioned a bridge across the top of the falls. The hike from the parking area is about 4.5 miles one way. My pal Bernie found a shorter way in. I describe that hike on this page of my PBase galleries.
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