I haven’t been able to do much hiking so far this month, so even though the heat index was around 97 degrees, I decided to drive to Keowee-Toxaway State Park to do one of my favorite local hikes. The Raven Rock Loop is 4.1 miles long and is formed by connecting the Natural Bridge Trail with the Raven Rock Trail.
The hike started with a moderately-easy climb. The Rhododendron were in full bloom along this part of the trail.
After a few minutes, I crossed the large boulder that forms the “Natural Bridge” over Poe Creek.
Just beyond the natural bridge is a short side trail that takes you down to this nice little cascade.
There are a lot of impressive rock formations along the trail. As usual, I find that pictures can’t quite capture the scale.
The last time that I did this hike was with my wife and kids at the end of March. Back then, the trees were still mostly bare, but now things have greened up very nicely.
I spotted this little golden-yellow mushroom growing on the trail.
At about the midway point, the trail descended to the shore of Lake Keowee. From there I had nice views of distant mountains and of pretty homes across the lake.
After hiking a little further, I arrived at the spur that leads to the camping area. I hiked out to the last campsite and ate my lunch.
When I finished my lunch, I headed up the trail, which immediately climbed steeply to the top of a bluff. The views from here are probably my favorite of the entire hike.
Just be careful not to get too close to the edge.
There was a lot of blow-down in the hollow at this spot. While it may not appear so in the picture, these were actually pretty large trees.
These steps took me back down to Poe Creek, where there was another nice cascade.
I crossed Poe Creek on boulders, then continued up the trail.
There were several short but steep climbs. The last climb gained something like 233 feet in just three-tenths of a mile. The total ascent was 965 feet and I would rate the hike as being moderate to moderately-strenuous.
This loop has much to offer and I’m looking forward to going back, perhaps in the fall.