Raven Cliff Falls is an out-and-back trail in Caesars Head State Park. It’s just off US 276 on the South Carolina side of the SC/NC border. The trail is crowded year-round. There’s a well-kept gravel parking lot on the east side of the highway that fills up by noon on most Saturdays. If you don’t get there early, there’s overflow parking a little farther north on the west side of the highway, but that means you’ll be walking next to heavy traffic on a tight, winding road.
There is no bathroom in the parking area, but there is one back at the nearby Caesars Head ranger station and welcome center. I’m pretty sure the ranger station is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Most people hike the 2.2-mile trail that runs along the contour of the mountain to the viewing area across the gorge from the falls. The waterfall cascade is 420 feet high, making Raven Cliff Falls the highest in the state of South Carolina. You can combine trails to make a 7½ mile Raven Cliff Falls Loop that takes you to a suspension bridge directly over the precipice of the falls. The scale is pretty impressive.
There’s little elevation on this trail, which makes it very popular for families.
There are some steep steps in places and many roots and stones. If you have trouble navigating that type of terrain, I highly recommend investing in some trekking poles.
One of my problems with this trail—aside from the crowds—is that the payoff isn’t that great. You hike to a viewing platform and can barely see the falls across the valley. The trees obstruct all but a small viewing window.
That’s why I like to visit early on a winter Sunday. There’s no one else around, there are no bugs, and you can see so much more. But the steep area around the falls is prone to freezing, so I don’t recommend hiking the long trail in the cold.
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