Raven Cliff Falls and Dismal Trail Loop

MODERATE 280 reviews

Raven Cliff Falls and Dismal Trail Loop is a 7.1 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Cleveland, South Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
7.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2103 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

cave

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Combining the Raven Cliff Falls trail, the Gum Gap trail, the Naturaland Trust trail, and the Dismal trail for a great adventure! This is a great workout with a tremendous payoff. Hike trail #11(FHT/Raven Cliff Falls,easy) to trail #13 (Gum Gap,easy). Follow Gum Gap to trail #14 (Natureland Trust, strenuous) over the suspension bridge and down the the side towards Matthews Creek at the bottom. Along the way there is a great break spot on a ledge and the Cathedral formation. This section is very steep going down. Cross Matthews Creek on the cables and start the vicious switchbacks on Trail #12 (the Dismal Trail) back to trail #11 and eventually the parking lot. This hike is outstanding. Be prepared, either direction this is a hard hike with a well earned payoff.

18 days ago

I'm not buying the 7.1 distance, I am buying at least the 2100 feet in elevation change. We have what we did at nearly 12 miles. Plenty of chances to get in the water and to get different vantage points of the falls. we went down Dismal, then back up. Dismal had more switchbacks, some bouldering and three ladders and a ledge on the way back up to the payoff....a suspension bridge over the tallest waterfall in South Carolina. Challenging enough, not for a beginner or little one. Love it.

hiking
19 days ago

Great trail! Well maintained and easy to follow, compared to others I have been on. Cool diversions (falls, bridges, cliffs, ladders). I hiked today with my daughter. We were sweating, but it was worth the work. I now own an "I survived Dismal Loop" tee!!

hiking
22 days ago

Definitely a hard trail, I would not underestimate it. Bring trekking poles if you have them. Worth every mile. Absolutely gorgeous and breathtaking. Will always come back here

hiking
23 days ago

When they say this trail is Hard what they should really say is this trail is pretty damn strenuous. I read the reviews and was like oh people say it’s hard but complete the loop in 4 hours, that sounds doable. What I failed to consider is that the people writing these reviews likely hike quite often and are in much much better shape than myself. My husband and I did this trail this past weekend and I got my butt sufficiently kicked. Total time for the loop was 6and half hours, and it isn’t 7 miles it’s more like 8.5 miles. This loop is NOT kid friendly, is NOT limited mobility friendly, and seriously difficult if you are overweight.

Raven cliff is easy peasy, wide pathways, large portions of it gravel, gum gap is easy as well. The dismal and naturalland trust are really difficult. The climbs and descents are pretty steep, the trails are very narrow a great deal of the time where the edge is literally a drop off that I have no doubt if I had fallen I would have seriously injured myself. I had to crawl a few times to get under fallen trees and up the trail. While it is marked it is pretty easy to get lost on the natauralland trail. It is so steep in some places that all the climbs up/down look like they could be part of the trail. There are 2 creek crossings which are super easy and small, some up and down ladders as well. The views are pretty but I was so exhausted by time we made it to the bridge all I could think was I did that for this? I highly suggest doing raven cliff to dismal to natauralland way. I can’t imagine going the other way and having to go up dismal 4 miles into the hike.

It’s pretty and when I started I was full of hope and wonder. When i finished I was proud of myself for completing it and proving to myself that I could.

24 days ago

Awesome trail! Very well marked and easy to follow. Makes for a burly trail run!

hiking
1 month ago

Did this trail yesterday with my dog. We did the loop counterclockwise (starting with Dismal). It was a serious hike on the first really hot day of the year. There are 2 up ladders and 1 down ladder the direction we went. We didn’t get a good view of the falls up close but did find some nice cool water to play in along the way. It took us 4hrs round trip including our stops. Definitely recommend.

hiking
1 month ago

such a beautiful trail! so many cool spots to see. would definitely recommend going. probably one of the prettiest hikes I’ve been on.

hiking
2 months ago

First time hiking this trail. I did get lost on Natureland Trust. It looked as if there had been a lot of rain previously where trees and rocks were washed down on the trail in some spots; however, I did find an amazing view of the waterfall. Be careful on Natureland Trust Trail-easy to loose markers in spots. Fantastic group of trails-especially Natureland Trust. Definitely NOT for children. You will need hiking boots. From advice here, I took the strenuous paths first and do recommend that! I did #11 to #12, #14, #13, back to #11 and parking. With my off the trail excursion, around 9 miles and it took me around 4 hours. Will do this hike again!

hiking
2 months ago

Just did this hike and really enjoyed it. A surprisingly busy area. My GPS had it at 9.3 so something is going on there, I wonder if parts of the trail have been re-routed, especially on the down side of Dismal Trail. Certainly some rough spots and the climb up the valley on Natureland can be tough. The only reason I rated this 4 instead of 5 was that I never found a way to get close to the falls, other than going over the top on the suspension bridge.

2 months ago

First time doing this trail. Completed the Raven Cliffs Falls, then decided to go down the purple/pink trail. It was hard! Before you embark on the trail, do make sure you have food and water as the sign says. However, I completed (looped around the bleu trail and then back on the red trail/raven cliff falls) the whole trek at 8.28 miles in a little over 4 hrs (including getting lost a few times) according to my gps. But I went without taking breaks and fueled up as I progressed.
Views were okay . The bridge was okay. Not my favorite hike but definitely a good workout! Raven cliff falls and the bleu trail would be good for running so I will probably do those again in the future.

hiking
2 months ago

Awesome trail, but it somehow turned into an eleven mile trek. Take lots of water, some food and be sure to leave in enough time to get back before dark.

2 months ago

trail says about 8 miles but my GPS had us over 11. take on dismal trail by coming from raven cliff falls trail. that sends you down the hard way first and the end will be easy, me and my fiancee went backwards unknowingly and it was rough. definetly the most difficult trail I've hiked. but it's very rewarding.

This trail was a butt kicker! But absolutely worth it! 7.5 miles total, crazy terrain, pretty views and a workout!

hiking
2 months ago

this trail is awesome. good views. good challenge. totally worth it rain or shine, heat or cold. :)

hiking
2 months ago

We walked the raven cliff falls trail(#11) to the Gum Gap/Foothill trail(#13) to the Naturaland Trust Trail(#14) up the Dismal trail(#12) back up the raven cliff falls. It was cold raining and sleeting. Awesome trail. So much to see and not a very difficult trail. Walking up the dismal however is a challenge. Don’t go up that trail if you aren’t in shape or not up for a pretty good challenge. You can always go down that and up around the opposite way we went. All in all a fantastic hike and a really fun time. We did a little extra hiking and did right at 10 miles in about 4 and 1/2 hours. Good challenge. Fun trip

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked it this morning for the first time. The recent rain made some parts a little more challenging. Over all the loop starts off easy and then gets very hard once you get on Naturaland and Dismal. Early morning fog made for some great views from the trail as well as the near by overlook at the park office.

hiking
3 months ago

Trail is well marked, easy to follow and well maintained. The views are amazing, and plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views.

3 months ago

Very hard not an easy trek for beginners

hiking
3 months ago

Two years ago- went in late March
Hike the the suspension bridge is moderate with some navigating over huge rocks on the trail. The bride is fun but going down the ladders that are directly beyond the bridge now that’s fun. Face to the mud, narrow trail to place my rather long feet- hey no sweat! Maybe a little. After the bridge we went down down down.. then came the Cathedral Wall. which was releasing chunks of ice upon our heads. If the ice inland melted off the cathedral wall or be prepared to deal with icy slippery conditions - had to inch our way across the wall or army crawl on a downward ice covered hill.
I’m too old for this!
Followed the pink trail to the bottom the shimmy cables were out at the bottom so we rock hopped across the river, well I hopped and slipped got a tad wet. THEN the dismal trail was exactly that DISMAL, I swear my life flashed before my eyes because when that sun dipped behind the tress it got dark fast.
Then my hip flexors stopped working. Yep sat on the dark for 3 hours until Wren and the crew showed up! The guy they call Mule, he was carrying a large plastic boat or stretcher wanted to take me back down to the river where I had recently baptized myself. I just couldn’t do it. So the whole crew just walked with me one miserable step at a time ALL THE WAY OUT, took 3 hours, I should have jumped in Mules boat!
Anyway- make sure your hips and knees are piled up- it’s not for those of us who spend too much time sitting at a desk
BY THE WAY- I thought Dismal was closed, like gone washed away. Anyone know for certain that it’s open?
UPDATE: I left my office job joined the gym and I know I won’t be needing Mules help in the future. Nice big bearded fella tho- and if your offered a ride in his boat, #justdoit.

hiking
3 months ago

My dad and I did this hike today. We took others’ advice and did the blue to pink to purple, but honestly next time I’d probably go the opposite! I agree with other hikers- dog friendly, but the three ladders could be an issue-only one was for us (we had to hoist up the heavy fur child for one as it was too steep for her to even go around). Otherwise, an awesome hike. Worth the time. For my dad and I (my dad is 65) we still completed in just over 5 hours and we took plenty of breaks. Do it!

3 months ago

Great hike, take snacks and plenty of water! Took us just shy of five hours but we stopped at the bottom for a lunch break. This is major workout and your muscles will feel it the next day. I stopped at the visitor center and bought an "I survived dismal loop" t-shirt!

3 months ago

Was great!

hiking
3 months ago

My dog and I set out on this trail with no real clue what we were getting ourselves into besides the warning sign at the trail head. If you are NOT in decent shape, don’t have on hiking shoes/boots or don’t have a will power to push you through; I would try another trail first. It’s views are amazing and totally worth it, but be ready for steep inclines and rapid descents. The trail has three ladders (for you dog people), several skinny points and some wide points as well. Hide sight I would recommend going red to blue to pink to purple then back to red. It’s a burner but worth it! Fitbit stats: 24,411 steps, 11.8 miles, 256 stair cases, 3400 calories, 3:15 hours.

4 months ago

Great trail! Very challenging especially when going back up. bring plenty of water and a snack or two to keep you going

hiking
4 months ago

Awesome hike! Took me 4.5 hrs with some breaks to eat/enjoy the view. I descended on the Dismal trail and ascended on the Naturaland Trust trail. Going down was a little rough on the knees, but the ascent wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. The valley is lovely, and the falls are of course gorgeous. Definitely requires hiking experience, good shoes, and caution.

5 months ago

Great experience.. very technical

5 months ago

This was a very beautiful rewarding hike. There was a huge ice wall in Dismal which can be challenging to some, but it honestly was not too bad just pace yourself and be very careful- it was very neat and mesmerizing to look at. Be very careful of falling ice if hiking in these winter months as well. It’s very easy to get off trail, a seven mile hike ended up being a 14 mile hike due to many missed turns, so be sure you know where you’re going and try to avoid trail #13 as much as possible, it can get you very lost. Aside from getting lost, we really enjoyed ourselves. Make sure you come prepared with plenty water and snacks, as well as company. Happy hiking!

5 months ago

Somewhat technical near the falls. Watch for falling ice

hiking
5 months ago

I did this hike yesterday; really tough especially with the cold and huge rock ice wall in Dismal. The ice made a technical hike that much harder. I will hike again, but when there is no ice. Scenery was awesome.

hiking
5 months ago

Got the hike on video on my page! very hard with lots of easter eggs!

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