dogs on leash
Rough hike. We were heading to the top of table rock but the guy at the check in recommended we took the path to Pinnacle then cut through the Mill Creek Trail, and head back up that way. Horrible mistake. Added 6.5 miles to the trip and we ran out of water due to this. The table rock trail was not bad at all, and the views were beautiful but do not take any advice from the guy at check in.
Tough, tough climb. It's a manageable/moderate trail until the last little climb to Bald Knob, which is a tough, technical climb. That part of the trail is highly eroded, so there are lots of roots and rocks in addition to a relatively steep ascent. The most difficult part, by far, is the ascent from Bald Knob to the summit. Like noted in another review, it's almost straight up, few switchbacks. Not all of that ascent is difficult, though - some of it is crazy easy. But the hard parts are very steep and technical. It didn't help that it was in the low to mid 90s when we hiked it! Not a lot of breeze up there! But the accomplishment of making it to the summit (which, btw, had lots of pretty wild flowers on the trail) and the views from Bald Knob, combined with the lack of crowds compared to the Table Rock trail, made it worthwhile. Bring plenty of water and be prepared for a workout! My Strava clocked it at 8 miles exactly, from the office to the summit and back. Took us about 6 hours, but that's with lengthy stops at Bald Knob for snacks and the view.
We started at the trailhead across the street from the Raven Cliff Falls parking area off 276. It was marked "foothills trail", but was the start of Raven Cliff Falls Trail (#11 + red on the map). This section of the hike was moderate. We then took Gum Gap/Foothills Trail (#14 + blue) which was easy to Naturaland Trust Trail (#14 + pink). This part was a little more steep, moderate/hard, but it was lightly trafficked and we were only on it for about 15 min before arriving at Raven Cliff Falls. The Falls has several areas to sit and rest and is a pretty area. The bridge is here, too. From the parking lot to the Falls took about 1hr and 45min. Would definitely do this hike again.
This is a great workout with some really pretty views and rest spots. We've hiked it clockwise and counterclockwise, and I'd highly suggest doing it clockwise and getting Dismal Trail out of the way first and doing it downhill. This leaves you with a very tough, technical climb up Naturaland, but you're still toward the beginning of your hike. If you go counterclockwise you're hitting the long climb up Dismal last.
I suggest hitting the overlook first, then backtracking to Dismal and Naturaland. The Cathedral is beautiful and cool and a nice resting spot, but of course, the main reward is getting to the bridge over Raven Cliff Falls. Further up the trail, after you cross the bridge, there are some great little spots where you can get to other parts of the waterfall - well worth seeing. The hike back from the waterfall clockwise is long but not difficult or very technical at all. Take plenty of water, allow for around 5 hours, and enjoy!