Once you find this trail, it is easy to find. The trick is finding it the first time.
Now, there are guides that tell you Raven Rock Falls (also called Raven Falls) is on private property and is not accessible. While it is on private property, there are no signs or other encumbrances to using this trail with its several surprises. But first, you’ve got to find the trail head.
All the guides refer you to telephone pole #61 on Cold Mountain Road but then tell you that road construction may have moved or removed this pole. More confusing in the fact that the telephone poles now have 2 sets of numbers, one in orange, one in yellow.
So, here are the directions for finding the unmarked trail: From the bridge at Toxaway Falls, go east on US 64 to NC 281. Left on 281 for 0.8 miles and turn left, at the fire station, onto Cold Mountain Road. Go precisely 4.5 miles. You will have completed a large loop in the road and will have started back around to the right. You will see a telephone pole on your left with a small, room for 1 car, pulloff just past the pole. Check the pole (see photo in the slide show). It will have 64F in orange and 61 in yellow. Another tag with a yellow 2 actually has RAVEN FALLS written on it. If you’re at the wrong pole, just remember, the pole numbers increase as you ascend Cold Mountain Road.
From the pole, walk up the roadside for 50 feet to a shallow, rocky ditch draining down into the woods. This is the trailhead. You are more than a quarter of a mile from the waterfall and the road comes much closer further up but the gorge prevents access from that direction so the trail starts where it can swing you down below the rock face that creates the waterfall. You’ll see evidence of this rock face along the entire trail
Head down into the woods and the trail will shortly make a right turn and you’ll come onto a trail fork with a “25” on a round marker nailed to a tree. The trail is also blue blazed. Stay on the most obvious trail to the right. In about 100 yards, you will have to rock hop a nice, 25 foot tall, tiered waterfall coming over the rock face. Although unnamed, this is a nice little vista. Continuing on, you will then encounter another unnamed waterfall coming over the rock face. This one is a 25 foot free plunge which allows you to walk behind it on a small bridge. Once on the other side of the bridge, the trail actually uses the stream bed as it starts downhill. Your best photo of this waterfall is from the streambed just before the trail turns back into the woods.
You are just a few yards away from the base of Raven Rock Falls, now. Arriving at the bottom, you have a spectacular view of this 2-part cascade on the Toxaway River. The top is a 50 foot, uniform plunge. It is almost veil-like. The water then gathers itself in a mid-fall pool to present itself down another 50 feet of tiers. Toward the base, the flow literally makes a right turn. At the bottom, there is a 3-foot ledge that takes the water down a final short plunge. The base pool is crystal clear, shallow and pebbly rather than the usual sand. Look for trout.
Photogenic really doesn’t even describe this waterfall. The uniformity of the water flow on both sections is striking. And pay close attention to the striation of the rock in the lower tiers.
This will be a gem in your collection of waterfall adventures, one many people will not have had…because they haven’t been able to find the trailhead.