Summary: This is a great workout with a tremendous payoff. We hiked trail #11(FHT/Raven Cliff Falls,easy) to trail #13 (Gum Gap,easy). We followed Gum Gap to trail #14 (Natureland Trust, very strenuous) to the bridge and continued over the bridge and down the the side towards Matthews Creek at the bottom. Along the way there is a great break spot on a ledge(see photo) and the Catherdal formation (also see photo). This section is very steep going down. We crossed Matthews Creek on the cables and started the vicious switchbacks on Trail #12( Dismal Trail back to trail #11 and eventually the parking lot. This hike is outstanding, we had the fortune to run into a mother black bear and two cubs just after the Matthews Creek crossing. There is so much to say about this route but I would rather you experience it for yourself. Be prepared, either direction this is a hard hike with a well earned payoff. Enjoy and I'll see you on the trail!!!
Trailhead: Trailhead is at the Raven Cliff Falls parking area about a mile north (heading to Brevard NC) of Caesars Head State Park. Park in the lot on the right and cross the road to the trailhead registry (Lat:35.93 Lon:-82.32)
Trail Guides for Raven Cliff Loop:
Mountain Bridge Wilderness
by Greg Lucas ()
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Caesars Head State Park, 864-836-6115
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Shaun Mitchell, who has posted 17 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by tim on 12/1/2013
Best trail in South Carolina!!! My son and I did the loop from 276 parking lot to the bridge, down the Naturaland Trail and back up the Dismal yesterday, 11/29/13. There was a LOT of ice on the cathedral rocks and others on the Naturaland trail. Very slippery, be very careful. It never gets full sun, so is prone to heavy icing. Had to cross Matthews Creek on a downed tree where the wire bridge used to be. Strenuous but very enjoyable!!
Reviewed by RC&RC on 7/8/2012
Hiked this yesterday down to Matthews creek and back up to the bridge. Note that the cables are no longer in place across the creek. This was not a problem yesterday, plenty of exposed rock, but might be a wetter crossing if the water is high. Mainly mention this in case you are looking for the cables as a landmark. When you arrive at the creek, look closely at a tree on your left to see the scars from the cables. Great hike, indeed a strenuous climb out on a hot July day. From this direction, an easy hike back out to the parking lot.
Reviewed by Eric on 5/13/2010
Hey, I found one of my best favorite trail that is Raven Falls Trail. Your blog is so detail and helply. Thank you for your work.
Reviewed by VWH on 2/20/2010
Three of us hiked this trail on February 19, 2010. We took the Dismal Trail section down to Matthews Creek. After crossing the creek on the cables, we climbed up the trail to the Cathedral and the suspension bridge. The trail going up was a northern exposure and was covered with three to four inches of snow and ice. The Cathedral was magnificentally draped in large icicles. The ledge along the Cathedral was narrow and covered in ice. We traveled very slowly for a treacherous 150 yards. We spent a lot of time here taking photos and marvelling at the ice-draped rock wall. The suspension bridge was covered with snow. The GPS claimed we hiked nearly nine miles. We highly recommend this for a strenuous winter hike. Many thanks to Shaun Mitchell.
Reviewed by cbc on 1/19/2010
This hike is worth the effort. We like Dismal Trail first, with overlook branch (500 yd side trip ends in overlook platform and shelter), rock overlook (1/4 mi past the overlook branch) and then descent. We lunch at the cable spanning Matthews Creek then up the steep part of Natureland Trust Trail. Watch for ice between Cathedral and Suspension bridge in Winter. We cut across the ravine to avoid the ice sheet. At Suspension Bridge you are past the hard part and 3/4 the way up. There is a Warning Sign at the start of Dismal. There should be a similar sign at the suspension bridge going the other way. Steep down and Dismal up. 6 hours with lots of stops for pictures and lunch for an over 60 and his almost 20 son.
Reviewed by JRL on 9/5/2008
I've done this loop a couple of times, once in each direction. I think it's best to go down the Dismal Trail and up Natureland Trust to the bridge. You get the steep sections out of the way early with the payoff of the cathedral, bridge and falls near the top. Then you're left with a pretty easy hike back out on Gum Gap.
Reviewed by Mike on 6/16/2007
The loop is a great hike but challenging. There is a fun cable crossing and the view from the suspension bridge is good. Watch out for poison ivy on the dismal trail.
Reviewed by Brooke & Lex on 1/29/2007
We really enjoyed this hike. It has 3 major hill/valley combos. Challenging and perfect in the winter. The end view is beautiful and we met several friendly people along the way. Highly recommended for a great workout!
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