Raven Rock Falls
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The Cold Mountain trailhead of Panthertown is less than an hour's drive from my home, so I'm often heading over there to hike. I had known about Raven Rock Falls, which are right off the road to this trailhead, for some time from Rich Stevenson's website. But it was a recent post by Chris Berrier that finally got me to find this beauty for the first time.
If you're familiar with Rich's directions, you'll know about needing to find "pole #61". The trail to these falls begins from a non-descript spot along the 5.7 mile long Cold Mountain road, which runs from Highway 281 to Panthertown's eastern section.
It just so happens that this non-descript spot happens to have a utility pole with a number on it: 61. Actually, it has 3 numbers, one above the other: 64F, 2, and 61. So, the #61 you're looking for is the BOTTOM of 3 numbers, on a pole that is on the LEFT side of the road as you're headed towards Panthertown. Chris Berrier's blog post has photos of both this pole, as well as one on the RIGHT side of the road, a little further up, that has a number 61 at the TOP of the three numbers (61F, actually). This is NOT the pole that is your landmark. Look for the one on the left.
Note that for most of my hikes, I provide a GPS track and elevation profile, but the hike to this waterfall is so short, there really is no need for either.
Of particular note on this trek --- the waterfall, as well as the trail to it is entirely on private property. Always follow Leave No Trace principles when you are hiking anywhere, but be especially thoughtful on spots such as these which are not public lands.
The hike begins along Cold Mountain road, located in northwestern Transylvania County. If coming from the east (Brevard/Asheville), follow US64 west to Hwy 281 North. Turn right onto Hwy 281, and in 0.8 mile, turn left onto Cold Mountain Road. A fire station is on your right at this turn.
Cold Mountain road will twist and turn as it makes its way along the north shore of Toxaway Lake. At approximately 4.4 miles, you'll pass a waterfall immediately off the right side of the road, in a sharp, left hand curve. "Pole 61" will be about 500 feet further up the road. My GPS coordinates for this spot were N35.15950, W82.97986.
There is room on the left-hand side of the road for one or two cars, and a clear trail drops down off the hillside right at this spot.
The entire hike to Raven Rock Falls is only 10 minutes or so, dropping 400-450 feet in elevation as you head to Raven Rock. Along the way you cross over "The Bridge of Death" or the "3 Ways to Die Bridge" .... you can fall through the bridge, fall off the bridge, or clunk your head on the low, overhanging boulder.
(Above) Brenda, crossing the "3 ways to die" Bridge
Photo by Darrin Hamlin
Darrin, on the not-so-level bridge (below)
Despite the rather wild names, the bridge is actually quite sturdy!
Once you cross this bridge, the trail continues rather steeply down to the falls, which you can clearly hear at this point.
Just a little bit further down the trail, you are greeted by this beauty!
Raven Rock Falls
To return to the road, retrace your steps the way you came (yup ... you get to cross that bridge a second time!!).
More photos in my SmugMug gallery.