Accessibility – Moderate
Height – 45′
Distance – 1.6 miles (out and back)
Beauty – 9
Photo rating – 9
Solitude – 9
GPS Info: LAT 35.1577 LONG -82.9821
Last Updated – 05/15/2016
Before we go any further on this one, let me say this. I have read in some places that Raven Rock Falls is on private property. Other sources make no mention of private property. It may or may not be. I don’t know. Personally, I didn’t see any No Trespassing signs on Cold Mountain Rd where I accessed the trail or on the way to the falls. I don’t know what else to say on the matter. If I did trespass, I’m sorry.
Raven Rock Falls is a 45 foot high waterfall that is comprised of two completely different drops. The upper section is a straight drop of about 30 feet and from there the water fans out along the shelf and tumbles down a series of steps to a collection pool. Most of the water flows down the right side of the lower section with a lesser amount coming off the middle of the steps and even less draining off the left side. The falls are in a ravine with high rock walls on both sides, giving it an added feeling of isolation. The pool in front of the falls is bordered downstream by a field of boulders that in warmer weather I would likely have explored but not on a March afternoon. The rock on the lower section is alive with colors, adding to the impressive scene. The setting and the diversity of the two drops earns Raven Rock Falls a spot on my Top 10 List. You can see the rest of the list on my Top 10 Page.
To get to Raven Rock Falls, take US64 west out of Brevard heading toward Lake Toxaway. Around 11 miles into your westward journey you will see Bear Tracks Travel Center and not too far after this you will come to the split with NC281 North. The section of US64 before and after the split with NC281N was under construction as of 4-30-2016 and signs were posted to expect delays. Bear right onto NC281 and enjoy the amazing homes on the banks of Lake Toxaway. Follow NC281 for 0.9 of a mile to the split with Cold Mountain Road. Bear left onto Cold Mountain Road. The easiest way to find the intersection is to look for the Lake Toxaway Fire Station. Follow Cold Mountain Road for 4.5 miles to the pull off on the right hand side. There are some landmarks that will make this easier. At the 4.0 mile mark you will come to a section of road that was recently rebuilt and falling off the cliff face. On the right is an 18 foot high waterfall called Shower Falls. At this point you can start looking at the telephone poles on the left side of the road. When you see the one with the number 61 on it, pull off on the right. The pole is on the outside of a right hand bend in the road.
Walk back down toward the pole and you will see the trail descending. Even with the ground covered in leaves, I was easily able to find my way. Not too far into the hike a trail is going to intersect from the left. Ignore it. Stay to the right. The trail to the left is marked with blue tape and blue paint splotches on the trees. I explored it for a short distance until it met up with the creek below Shower Falls. Back on course, the trail to Raven Rock Falls is marked with multiple colors of flagging tape and the same blue paint marks. The upper section of the trail is relatively flat and easy to manage. About halfway to Raven Rock Falls (0.4 of a mile into the hike), you will reach the first waterfall on this hike. The 30 foot high waterfall is located on an unnamed creek. To continue to Raven Rock Falls you have to walk through the creek below the falls. There is a steep drop off the left side of the falls where you cross so use caution. If you want to see what this waterfall looks like, click here.
The intermediate section of the trail presents no real obstacles but there are a few steep spots before you reach a small waterfall on Cold Mountain Branch, which is pictured here. To get past this waterfall you have to cross a bridge behind the waterfall. The bridge has an unsteady look to it and as I was walking across it, the first thing that came to mind was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Indi’s sidekick Short Round, is bouncing up and down on the wooden bridge, ‘Good wood, Indi, good wood’. Once across you will face the only tricky part of the hike. The trail enters the creek bed onto some wet and slippery rocks. A painful slide onto the rocks and downfall below awaits a careless step. Thankfully this is only a five foot section of trail. After the abbreviated creek walk, the trail continues down to a meeting with the Toxaway River at the base of Raven Rock Falls.
The hike is mostly kid friendly with only the aforementioned section of wet rock after the second waterfall presenting an issue. Use your best judgment. You can get a great shot of this waterfall from the large flat rock at the edge of the collection pool but you will need a wide angle lens to get it all in. The colors in the rocks are amazing, as is the way the water tumbles over the lower section after the initial drop. There is a lot of delicate vegetation growing on the lower section of the waterfall that doesn’t need you trampling it to try and climb up. Not to mention the rock looks slippery. The only thing you’d likely accomplish is to bust your head open. On my April visit I worked my way further downstream to capture the mossy boulders below the falls.