Saturday, March 22, 2008

Raven Cliff Falls, SC

From Brevard head down US 276 to the SC state line.  A little ways across the line will be a sign for Raven Cliff Falls parking on the left.  If you get to the Caesar's Head State Park Visitor Center you have gone to far.  The waterfall is over 400 feet tall and the hike to the overlook is 2 miles.  You can check a map of the park's trails to see the different ways and distances to reach the falls.

We started this hike on the Naturaland Trust Trail.  I didn't really know what I was getting into as this was a last minute idea my brother and I came up with.  Our mistake was having this great idea very late in the day.  I think we started around 3 or 4.

The trail started at a pink-blazed pipe gate off of US 276 a little ways down the road from the Caesar's Head State Park visitor center.  The house we were staying at was actually closer to this point than the parking for the Overlook Trail, so we figured why not just start here. 

If I had to describe the hike in one word it would be strenuous.  Added to the fact we had already been hiking that day.  I swear it seemed like every 100 feet a huge tree had fallen across the trail.  So we jumped and climbed over more trees than I could count.  The entire hike was up a mountain and then down a mountain and repeat.  It felt like it would never end.

Finally it seemed like we were getting somewhere when we reached the Dismal Trail intersection.  At this point it was starting to get dark and we had no idea how much further Raven Cliff Falls was.  So reluctantly I agreed it was time to leave even though it felt like we were so close.  

We then began our trek up the mountain away from the falls.  We climbed Dismal Trail and hit the Overlook Trail and made our way out to the parking lot.  Just in time as it was almost pitch black at this point.  Completely worn out from from hiking all morning, day, and now evening we called our wives to drive over and pick us up.  Even that part was difficult as we struggled and struggled to get a signal. 

That last climb up the mountain is probably the most resting I have done on a trail.  The hike was a constant back and forth steep incline that went on and on at this point.  I was completely beat and very happy when we finally hit the Overlook trail.  Once on the Overlook trail things leveled out considerably.  At this point we had to run the rest of the hike as night time was approaching and we really didn't want to get stuck on the trail in the dark.

It was a pretty disappointing time.  I'm not sure how far we hiked, but starting from the house it had to be at least 10 miles.  I got back to the house completely worn out and without even a glimpse of the waterfall. I sat down on the couch and had a beer, but within 30 minutes I was passed out for the night. 

I had seen Raven Cliff Falls from the overlook before, but I really wanted to get closer.  The view from there isn't the best and the trees are in the way.  Plus it is definitely too far away to fully appreciate its beauty and magnitude. 

When I got back to Raleigh I decided to read up on the hike some.  Looking at the map we really were very close, but just ran out of daylight.  Turns out I hiked all that way and missed out on all the cool parts;  a cable crossing over a creek, a swinging bridge at the top of the falls, and a rock face called The Cathedral.  Now I was even more bummed out.  I really hope to make it back and I will definitely start in the morning this time.  

The one picture I took from the hike.

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