As a native son of the Upstate, Frugal staffer, Isaac knows a thing or two about local trails. One of his favorite hiking destinations is Raven Cliff Falls. If you’re looking for an easy hike with picturesque views, Raven Cliff Overlook Trail is a great choice. The terminus of this gentle 3.8 mile out-and-back is a lovely pavilion that provides sweeping views of the falls. It makes for a great picnic spot.

Feeling a little more adventurous? You can get in a full day of hiking by adding a 5 mile loop to your hike. This is a challenging trail so we recommend trekking poles, sturdy hiking shoes, plenty of water, and a backup filtration or purification method.

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard
Length: 3.8 miles/7.7 miles
Directions: From Greenville, head NW on 276. One mile past the entrance of Caesars Head State Park you will see a parking area for Raven Cliff Falls. The red-blazed trailhead is directly across the street.
From the trailhead follow Raven Cliff Trail (red blaze) for 1.9 miles just before you reach the overlook. If  you’re sticking with the shorter trail, enjoy a picnic and peaceful views, before heading back the way you came.
If you’re continuing on, turn left to Dismal Trail (purple blaze) to start a 2k ft decent into the valley. Dismal Trail is 1.5 miles long and ends at Nature Land Trust Trail. Once you’ve reached the bottom, turn right onto Nature Land Trust Trail (pink blaze), and start heading back uphill. This section of the loop is especially enjoyable as it follows the river until you reach huge rock ledges that you walk beside the rest of the way to the falls. This part of the trail for approximately 2 miles. The hike uphill is a little more technical than Dismal Trail with ladders, large rocks, and high steps.
You will know you’re done climbing when you come to the falls and cross a suspension bridge over it. Shortly afterwards, you’ll come to another fork where the Nature Land Trail ends at Gum Gap Trail. At the fork turn right onto Gum Gap trail (blue blaze). It is well maintained without too much elevation gain or loss. It’s a super easy 1.5 mile hike back to Ravencliff Falls trail. Make sure to follow the blazes. The trail runs straight onto an unmarked logging road that you could easily mistake for trail. Stay left onto the blazed path, and continue another mile to the parking lot you came from.
Not to be confused with Chimney Rock State Park, these Chimneys sit on the edge of Linville Gorge.  Starting at the Table Rock Picnic Area, you’ll follow the white blazed Mountains to Sea Trail to the south (on the left side of the parking lot).  You’ll find beautiful 360-degree views as you walk along the ridge on the eastern edge of the Gorge.  This hike is easily extendable by continuing along the MST to Shortoff Mountain, or by heading back to the parking lot and up to the top of Table Rock (see our blog post about this hike here).
Length: 1.5 miles out and back
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Directions: From Asheville, take I-40 East to exit 85 for US-221.  Follow 221 North for 28 miles, then turn right on NC-183 South.  Follow 183 for 4.5 miles to NC-181.  Turn right onto 181 South and follow for 3 miles to Gingercake Rd (you’ll see signs for Table Rock Picnic Area).  After 0.3 mi on Gingercake, veer left at the fork onto Table Rock Rd.  Follow Table Rock Rd for 5.4 miles (the road turns to gravel after about a mile), then turn right onto Forest Road 210B (again you’ll see signs for Table Rock Picnic Area).  Follow FR 210B for 2.9 miles to the Picnic Area, passing a sign for North Carolina Outward Bound School (after 1.5 miles the road turns back to pavement and the switchbacks get steeper).

If you’re looking for a fun family afternoon in the great outdoors, check out one of our favorite hikes for a summertime splash – Skinny Dip Falls. This short hike to idyllic falls and swimming hole on the Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River is perfect for a relaxing afternoon and well within the limits of even the littlest of hikers. Cross the road at the parking area and follow the path next to milepost 417 up the hill and follow the Mountains-to-Sea trail straight at the intersection. Enjoy a quick jog uphill and follow the ever-increasing volume of the Yellowstone Prong downhill and prepare to cool off in one of the most popular swimming holes in Western North Carolina.

Difficulty: Easy
0.8 miles
NatGeo 780; Pisgah Ranger District Location: From Asheville, take the Blue Ridge Parkway south past Mount Pisgah and US 276 to milepost 417. Park at the Looking Glass Overlook on your left-hand side. 



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