Explore The Outdoors

A Fall Hike to Raven Cliff Falls


In the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area near Cleveland, South Carolina, is a heavily forested trail leading to a spectacular view of a 400-foot waterfall.

To get to the trail, drive north of Caesars Head State on US 276 for a mile.  You’ll see a large, paved parking lot on the right.  Take the second right into the lot and fill out day pass form and put in your dash.  From the parking lot, you do have to cross US 276 to get to the trailhead.

Before you’re hike, take in a sunrise from Bald Rock Heritage Preserve.

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Hiking it just after sunrise one fall morning and I was the only soul around.  Now, I did see a few other hikes on my way back to the trailhead, but on the way to the falls it was pure solitude in the woods.  I was actually surprised since the trail is popular and Raven Cliff Falls is one of the most scenic and photographed falls in the state.

The trail starts with an easy descent on a wide gravel trail for about a quarter of a mile.  Downhill to start means uphill to end.

I was on a mission to see some fall foliage and falls on this 4.4-mile round trip hike and I got both.  The trail is full of easy rollers.  The thick forest is full of a Upstate South Carolina staple – rhododendrons.

This trail is marked with red blazes on the trees.  When you reach a set of stairs, you’re at about the halfway mark on the trail.  When you come to a T at 1.4 miles on the trail.  Head left and continue 0.8 miles to the observation deck.

The official viewing deck is about a quarter of a mile across from the falls.  The falls are named for the ravens breeding in the high cliffs forming the falls.  Over 150 species of ravens have been identified in the region.

Raven Cliff Falls is the highest waterfall in South Carolina.  Water tumbles 400 feet as Matthews Creek plunges down Raven Cliff Mountain to The Dismal is the Mountain Bridge Wilderness.  The falls surrounded by pops of autumnal hues were beautiful against a grey sky the day I hiked.  Best part of all, I got the beauty all to myself.

Next time I’m hiking the Gum Gap/Foothills Trail to the top of falls for a 7 to 9-mile round trip hike.

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