Within the confines of the Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area, there are only 2 trails, Natural Bridge and Raven Rock. Together the 2 trails form a figure 8 with Natural Bridge Trail being the bottom and Raven Rock Trail the top. Technically, to travel Raven Rock, you will also hike Natural Bridge in that the trailhead for Raven Rock is located at the top of Natural Bridge Trail.
To get to these trails, take Hwy 178 North out of Pickens to the intersection of Hwy 11. Turn left and go about 5 miles. You’ll see Hwy 133 coming in from the left. Immediately turn right into the Natural Area. You’ll fins the Meeting House on your right which serves as Park Headquarters. You can park either in front or in back as the trail head begins behind the Meeting House.
After about a quarter mile of relatively flat hiking, you’ll find a bench on your right. Given the ease of the trail, this bench seems out of place but its importance will become evident later. For the first half mile of hiking, Hwy 11 is out of sight just off to your right. Traffic sounds spoil the illusion of the wilderness until the trail drops off the ridge line down to meet Poe Creek at the Natural Bridge. The trail crosses atop a massive flat stone that spans the creek and gives the trail its name.
Turning left, the trail follows the creek for about 100 yards before rock hopping back over. Half way between the 2 crossings, Raven Rock’s trail head will be on your right.
It is this short run where the trail parallels Poe Creek you will find any number of small cascades. It is a very interesting section running through a large field of boulders.
Once the trail crosses back over Poe Creek, it now must climb back up to the ridge line where it loops back onto the outbound portion of the trail. This is about a 200 foot climb in about a quarter mile. And it is done without switchbacks. It just takes off uphill.
There are steps along the way to help and even a welcome bench about half way. While the outbound, right side of the loop is easy, the inbound left side should be rated difficult.
And that bench you saw earlier that didn’t seem to fit? Turns out it is about 20 feet from where the inbound side of the loop rejoins the trail. After the last push up to the ridge line, a little rest is needed before returning to your car.
Not the most remote trail around and is probably more difficult that it should be; however, getting down to view Poe Creek and its myriad of water features is worth the hike.