Raven Cliff Falls is the tallest waterfall in South Carolina. It cascades down 420ft and is very impressive to behold. Its also located in Caesars Head State Park making it easy-ish to get to. And the best part? You can reach the overlook without a super strenuous hike.
Now hiking to the overlook is very popular. And Caesars Head is a small park. The parking lot at the trailhead fills up quickly on the weekends. If you’re coming on a Saturday or Sunday, plan to get there early.
You’ll also need to pay the fee to enter the park. There’s no manned kiosk at the trailhead parking lot (though there is a drop box). So be sure to have exact change in cash on you or stop at the main park office to purchase a day pass.
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Raven Cliff Falls Trail
Distance: ~4 miles roundtrip
Dog Friendly: Yes
Trailhead: Located about a mile north of the main Visitor Center on US-276
Fee: There is a fee to enter the State Park, see the Park Website for current admission prices ($6 per adult in 2021)
Elevation Change: ~750ft
Time: 2.5-3 hours
The parking lot at the trailhead is quite small. If it’s full, there is another parking lot a little bit past it (heading north) on the left side of the road. If that’s also full, then you’re kind of out of options. I’d consider heading to Dupont State Forest to hike the 3 waterfall hike.
The main parking lot is on the right side of the road (again heading north), but the trailhead is actually on the left side. This seems to confuse a bunch of people as on a Thursday morning I had to point two different groups in the right direction.
There is a hiking kiosk in the parking lot with a map since other trails starts from there. But if you want to see Raven Cliff Falls, you’ll want to cross the highway (there are pedestrian walkway stripes on the road). Once there you’ll see another kiosk that marks the start of the Raven Cliff Falls Trail.
If you ever get confused during the hike, just look for the red blazes.
Now the trail starts off by heading downhill along a gravel slope. But after a little bit the gravel disappears and you’ll be on a natural surface trail for most of the way.
The trail itself is fairly level as it stays up on the ridge and doesn’t descend down into the valley below. This out-and-back trail is a great intro trail for those looking to try out hiking or to just spend a nice day outdoors.
If you have dogs with you, I’d definitely consider still stopping every 1/2 mile or so to offer them some water. This goes doubly if its hot out. Because even if it doesn’t seem warm to you, they can’t sweat like we can.
All of the elevation gain here is pretty much spread out. There was one small section with a staircase, but it doesn’t go on and on like some others do (looking at you Table Rock Trail).
The hardest part of the trail is probably climbing back up the initial graveled slope at the end of the hike. However that’s less than .25 miles long and then you’re finished.
You will pass a couple of intersections along the trail. The first is with the Gum Gap / Foothills Trail and the second is with the Dismal Trail. Make sure to stay on the red blazes to continue on the Raven Cliff Falls Trail.
Looking for something challenging? You can make a loop by turning onto the Dismal Trail, then making a right onto the Naturaland Trust Trail, and making another right onto the Gum Gap / Foothills Trail. This is a very long hike (~9 miles) with lots of elevation gain (over 2,000ft). Only very experienced hikers should try this loop hike. Dogs are not recommended due to ladders.
Shortly after the intersection with the Dismal Trail you’ll come upon the lookout and observation deck. Raven Cliff Falls is located across the valley so this overlook does not bring you close to it. But you will get a great view of the bulk of the waterfall.
If you visit at peak times, definitely expect to share the shelter with others. On a cool Thursday morning in April, I had the whole thing to myself for a good half hour or so.
After you’ve gotten your fill, head back the way you hiked in.
Raven Cliff Falls Trail Map
Click the image or the buttons to view the map in more detail.
Overlook at the Visitor Center
If you’ve never been to Caesars Head before, be sure to stop at the main visitor center. At the back of the parking lot is a walkway that will take you to an overlook looking out towards Table Rock.
It’s one of the best views in the region.