Raven Cliff Falls

Caesar's Head State Park, South Carolina, USA

About Raven Cliff Falls


Hiking Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 2-2.5 hours

Date first visited: 2012-10-17
Date last visited: 2012-10-17

Waterfall Latitude: 35.10621
Waterfall Longitude: -82.66037

Raven Cliff Falls is said to be South Carolina’s tallest waterfall with a drop of around 400ft though some have disputed this claim saying it’s more on the order of 320ft or so.

Regardless of trivial numerical figures, what stood out about this waterfall was the explosion of Autumn colors surrounding the shadowy basin where Matthews Creek made its dramatic drop.

Raven_Cliff_Falls_019_20121017 - Raven Cliff Falls
Raven Cliff Falls

As you can see from the photo above, the view of the falls from the official trail and lookout was a very distant one.

Therefore, I’d imagine you’ll want a telephoto lens for decent closeup photographs of it.

Otherwise, it’d be hard to appreciate the full size of Raven Cliff Falls since there didn’t appear to be an obvious way to get a closer and more intimate look of it.

Hiking to the Raven Cliff Falls Viewpoint

Getting to the waterfall overlook required a 4.4-mile out-and-back hike.

Raven_Cliff_Falls_003_20121017 - On the other side of the road as we started the hike to the Raven Cliff Falls viewpoint
On the other side of the road as we started the hike to the Raven Cliff Falls viewpoint

While moderately long, most of this hike contained gentle elevation changes and it didn’t undulate as drastically as say the Lower Whitewater Falls trail.

That other trail took me a bit longer to complete even though its length was said to be shorter in distance than that of the Raven Cliff Falls Trail.

From the somewhat hidden parking area (especially if you’re heading south from North Carolina; see directions below), I had to cross Hwy 276 before descending on the official trail past some sign boards and a trailhead register.

The trail was mostly straightforward to follow as trail junctions were well signposted.

Raven_Cliff_Falls_007_20121017 - Beautiful Autumn colors surrounding the trail leading down to the Raven Cliff Falls
Beautiful Autumn colors surrounding the trail leading down to the Raven Cliff Falls

Besides, the trail was quite popular so it was pretty easy to tell which way to go when confronted with a trail junction or a fork given the likely presence of other people.

Throughout the hike, I had opportunities to gaze up and admire the orange and red colors of the leaves, which were on the verge of falling with any onset of breezes.

There were also limited opportunities to peer through the trees and glimpse the basin beneath Caesar’s Head towards the Table Rock vicinity.

Eventually, the trail for the Raven Cliff Falls terminated at what appeared to be a newly-built viewing platform.

Raven_Cliff_Falls_042_20121017 - Full contextual view of the Raven Cliff Falls surrounded by gorgeous Autumn colors
Full contextual view of the Raven Cliff Falls surrounded by gorgeous Autumn colors

I had read other trip reports that said the old viewing deck (which was said to be much closer and better than the current one) was destroyed by a fallen tree and hadn’t been rebuilt since.

Whatever the case may be, I was pretty content with the view that I was afforded on this trail, and I didn’t attempt any further exploration.

Authorities

Raven Cliff Falls resides in the Caesar’s Head State Park near Cleveland in Greenville County, South Carolina. It is administered by South Carolina State Parks. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Raven_Cliff_Falls_001_20121017 - Sign pointing us towards Hwy 276 to start the Raven Cliff Falls hike
Raven_Cliff_Falls_004_20121017 - Julie on the descending trail as we left the highway 276
Raven_Cliff_Falls_009_20121017 - Most of the Raven Cliff Falls hike involved hiking amongst tall trees with changing Fall colors exhibited in their leaves
Raven_Cliff_Falls_010_20121017 - Last trail junction before the final approach to the overlook for Raven Cliff Falls
Raven_Cliff_Falls_011_20121017 - Approaching the lookout platform and shelter for the Raven Cliff Falls at the end of the trail
Raven_Cliff_Falls_012_20121017 - Looking at a sign explaining how the Mills and Moore Families had protected and shared the Raven Cliff Falls for citizens of South Carolina
Raven_Cliff_Falls_013_20121017 - Raven Cliff Falls as seen through openings in the foliage from the lookout platform
Raven_Cliff_Falls_018_20121017 - The full contextual view of the Raven Cliff Falls from the lookout platform at the end of the trail
Raven_Cliff_Falls_037_20121017 - All zoomed in on the visible part of the Raven Cliff Falls hiding in the shadows as seen from the lookout platform at the end of the trail
Raven_Cliff_Falls_046_20121017 - Slightly uphill grade on the way back to the Raven Cliff Falls trailhead parking
Raven_Cliff_Falls_048_20121017 - A building next to the final ascent back up to the highway and trailhead parking lot for Raven Cliff Falls at the end of the hike

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Parking for Raven Cliff Falls is about 1.6 miles south of the North Carolina-South Carolina border along hwy 276.

It’s also a little over a mile northwest of the Caesars Head Visitor Center along the same highway.

The trail for the falls DOES NOT start at the Caesars Head Visitor Center (which we had mistakenly thought before the ranger there set us straight).

It’s important to note that if you’re heading south on Hwy 276, chances will be that you’re going to miss the parking lot for Raven Cliff Falls (unless you knew where to look in the first place).

I have no idea why they did this, but the signpost for the trailhead’s parking is only visible if you’re heading north on Hwy 276.

So if you see the Caesars Head Visitor Center, you went too far and will have to use it as a turnaround point (we know from experience).

Raven_Cliff_Falls_002_20121017 - Crossing over Hwy 276 in order to access the trail to the viewpoint for Raven Cliff Falls
Crossing over Hwy 276 in order to access the trail to the viewpoint for Raven Cliff Falls

Once you finally find the trailhead parking, there’s a self-help fee kiosk with envelopes.

The cost during our visit was $2 per person as of October 2012.

As mentioned earlier, you have to walk across the highway to get to the trail for the Raven Cliff Falls.

Make sure you look both ways and be quick about crossing the highway because it’s not far from a blind turn.

The Caesars Head Visitor Center is roughly 14 miles from Brevard along Hwy 276 (Greenville Highway).

It took us about a half-hour to cover this distance.

Note that the gates for the visitor center doesn’t open until 9am so it might be a little trickier to make your turnaround if you don’t have the benefit of the parking lot to do it.

Finally for some geographical context, Brevard, North Carolina was 35 miles (under an hour drive) south of Asheville, North Carolina, 47 miles (90 minutes drive) northwest of Greenville, South Carolina, and 126 miles (2.5 hours drive) west of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Zoomed in on the falls before gradually zooming out to reveal the full context of the falls amongst the fall colors


Fixated on the falls

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Tagged with: caesars head, state park, greenville county, south carolina, waterfall, table rock



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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Raven Cliff Falls, Caesar Head South Carolina July 10, 2011 12:32 pm by BJ Winchester - I heard this was a strenuous hike. It was! You literally are going through a partial rain forest. It is misty raining half way through the trail. It is a 2.2 mile hike one way. Beautiful and many birds. You hear blue jays, pilleated woodpeckers, quail, chickadees, and some sort of mountain bird which I… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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