South Carolina has a lot to offer nature lovers. From sandy beaches to scenic mountainous landscapes, there is something for everyone. And then there are the waterfalls! There are a whopping 100 waterfalls throughout the interior of the country. As a result, a trip to one of these waterfalls is high on the list of romantic things to do in the state. But if one thing stands out, that’s it highest waterfall in South Carolina, Raven Cliff Falls.
Raven Cliff Falls: the tallest waterfall in South Carolina
The tallest waterfall in South Carolina is a 400-foot waterfall from Matthews Creek to Dismal Creek in Caesars Head State Park. This waterfall is one of the most photographed falls in the state. But it’s not just the waterfalls that make this place unique. Raven Cliff Falls got its name from the ravens that breed on the cliffs of the falls. In fact, 150 raven species have been identified in this area.
The difficulty of the path to Raven Cliff Falls
You can find the trail to Raven Cliff Falls in Caesars Head State Park. In the visitor center parking lot, a large sign points the way. The trail is relatively easy for the first two miles before arriving at the loop fork. At the fork there are two choices; If you dare to walk counter-clockwise, it means a strenuous walk back uphill, so most people choose to walk clockwise. In addition, the path leads you clockwise to the short cul-de-sac where the first viewpoint is located.
From this vantage point, you’ll appreciate the sheer depth of the falls, leading to the tallest waterfall in South Carolina. The trail gets harder the further you get into the loop, but it’s worth it as you get to the viewpoint overlooking the middle of the falls. The trail is 14 km long in total and is rated as difficult due to its steep gradients and length. Therefore, the Raven Cliff Falls Trail is not for beginners. It is best to tackle this trail shortly after sunrise and pack enough water and snacks. Although this is a difficult hike, there is a lot of traffic on this trail so there is a good chance you will be sharing the road with other visitors.
Wildlife around Raven Cliff Falls
As mentioned above, Raven Cliff Falls was named for the ravens that breed on the cliffs in the area, but they’re not the only animals that call this park home. Several species of wildlife live in the areas surrounding the falls. They include:
The largest land mammal in South Carolina is the black bear. Their thick, long fur varies in color but is primarily dark brown or black with tan muzzles. In addition, black bears have rounded ears that sit on a broad head. They are easily distinguished from grizzly and brown bears as they do not have a prominent shoulder hump. In addition, these bears have an incredible sense of smell and fantastic eyesight. They are highly adaptable and are found in a variety of habitats, mostly near water as they enjoy swimming, but they are also excellent climbers.
Black bear males are typically larger than females, averaging between 150 and 350 pounds, while females range in weight from 100 to 250 pounds. However, older black bears can weigh anywhere from 400 to 500 pounds if they have access to plenty of food. In fact, the largest black bear ever recorded in South Carolina weighed a whopping 600 pounds!
Black bears have a long lifespan, as they do not reach sexual maturity until they are 3 years old and are fully grown by 5 years old. Therefore, their average life expectancy in the wild is 18 years.
The peregrine falcon is primarily seen in South Carolina during the winter or when migrating. One of their most successful nesting sites in the state is Table Rock State Park. These hawks feed primarily on other birds, which they hunt in the air. In addition, they are among the fastest animals in the world, being able to reach speeds of 200 miles per hour while diving.
Peregrine Falcon Population and Threats
Unfortunately, the peregrine falcon population declined significantly in the 50’s and 60’s due to the high use of pesticides during that period. While the pesticides did not directly affect these raptors, they do accumulate in the tissues of small animals such as mammals and birds, but only in small doses that do not harm the animal. However, if peregrine falcons eat enough of these contaminated animals, the pesticides can reach dangerous levels.
DDT was the main contributor to the decline in peregrine falcons as it was responsible for their eggshells thinning and breaking them during the breeding season. Fortunately, the use of this pesticide is banned in the US and other pesticides are closely monitored. Unfortunately, during their winter migration, these hawks may choose other countries where the use of pesticides is not regulated. While peregrine falcons have been listed as endangered, their population size is making a comeback and the IUCN has listed them as least concern.
The tallest waterfall in South Carolina is home to the green salamander. These salamanders spend most of their time underground, under tree trunks, leaves and rocks. However, some prefer to live in water bodies. There are several other salamander species that occur around the falls, including dwarf salamanders. They resemble lizards, but instead of scales, they have moist skin.
Rainbow trout are known for their variety of colors. For example, they are elongated fish with green sides that turn yellow and then white below the dorsal fin. In addition, they have reddish-pink stripes running down the sides of their bodies and small dark spots on most of their fins, body, and head.
In addition to Raven Cliff Falls, these fish are also found in the mountain streams of Greenville, Pickens, and Oconee counties. They also inhabit Lake Hartwell, Murray and Jocassee.
- Average size: 4 to 5 ounces
- Average length: seven to eight inches
- South Carolina record: 11 pounds, 5 ounces
The average life expectancy of rainbow trout in the wild is around 11 years.
Rainbow trout prefer cold waters with a temperature not exceeding 20 degrees Celsius. They like clear water in reservoirs, streams, rivers and lakes. Additionally, when found in mountain stream habitats, they prefer faster flowing water, such as at the head of a pond.
The red-tailed hawk is also known as the rabbit buzzard or chicken buzzard in South Carolina. Additionally, they are medium-sized raptors, measuring 46 to 64 inches in length and 4 feet (1.20 m) in wingspan. Red-tailed hawks have dark brown plumage with white feathers underneath. Their bellies have brown stripes and their tails are a red, rusty color. However, this species has two color variants: light and dark phases.
Juvenile red-tailed hawks look identical to adults except for their plumage. For example, their tails are usually brown with black stripes, while adults have rust-colored tails. They also differ from red-shouldered and serotine hawks in their physique, being stockier and having rounder and wider wings.
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