Wonderful Waterfalls

Raven Cliff Falls
Raven Cliff Falls
*Distance: 4.4 miles roundtrip
*Difficulty: Strenuous

Matthews Creek pours over the top of Raven Cliff and plunges four hundred feet to the valley that lies between Coldbranch Mountain and Caesar's Head Mountain. The most breathtaking waterfall in South Carolina, Raven Cliff Falls is a combination of sheer drops, rushing torrents, lazy pools, sliding fans, and racing cascades. Mathews Creek then joins the Middle Saluda as it carves its way through the valley called "the dismal," named for the stifling heat.

The creek begins with a thirty-foot free-fall into a pool, and then rushes around both sides of a huge boulder to form two long cascades. This is followed by an eighty-foot drop onto a massive granite shelf, a forty-foot sliding fan, and several more cascades and smaller falls.

For those who enjoy a hearty hike, getting to Raven Cliff Falls is half the fun. The trail alternates between modest inclines, level ground, and steep descents as you hike through the undulating topography. After approximately three-quarters of a mile, you reach a ridge buffeted by a strong wind. At an altitude of over thirty-two hundred feet, you have a one-hundred-mile view of the Piedmont plain below—called the Blue Ridge escarpment. From here you can see Parris Mountain, Blue Rock, and Table Rock beyond the Greenville Watershed.

The path then drops through a rhododendron thicket, complete with the sounds of a rushing creek. After several descending switchbacks, the trail ends at an observation deck. The falls are viewed across a wide open valley. Although you are approximately one-half mile from the falls, binoculars are not necessary to enjoy the panoramic scene.

Raven Cliff Falls and the surrounding acreage was owned and preserved by the Moore and Mills families of South Carolina. It was donated to the state in 1981 and is now part of the Caesar's Head State Park. The predominant feature of the Park and one of South Carolina's most famous landmarks is Caesar's Head, a massive granite formation which some think resembles the head of Julius Caesar. Although this sounds like a reasonable explanation for the derivation of the name, there are those that believe the famous cliff obtained its name from the Indian word for chieftain, "sachem." Our daughter, Cory, thought it looked like Shari Lewis' handpuppet, Lambchop. Lambchop State Park? I don't think so. Whatever the origin, Caesar's Head State Park offers hiking, camping, a well-maintained trail system, and a magnificent view from Caesar's Head Lookout.


From the Chamber of Commerce building (35 West Main Street) in downtown Brevard, take US 276 for 14.1 miles (8 miles past Connestee Falls) south to Raven Cliff Falls in South Carolina. The parking area is reached shortly after crossing the state line, but it is easy to miss because the only sign is not readily visible for motorists traveling south from Brevard. Cars parked along the roadway will indicate the correct location. The well-marked trailhead is on the right side of the road opposite the parking area.

© Article copyright Menasha Ridge Press. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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