Caesar’s Head State Park
After a tough hike Saturday in the heat, I wasn’t sure how much hiking I was up for on Sunday, but I geared up and hopped in the car with a mind toward doing some car touring. Saturday I had taken my Canon camera and a few lenses, but since I was already fairly tired, I instead took just my awesome new Fuji x100T to save some wear on my back. The built-in 3-stop ND filter was perfect for a bright sunny day like this.
I drove up 276 to Caesar’s Head State Park, which is absolutely stunning – one of the coolest drives I’ve ever taken, climbing through switchback turns through a beautiful forest. I arrived at the Visitor’s Center and took in the views from the overlook.
We’ll get another view of that rock face a bit later in the day. I went into the center and bought a map of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, which connects the Caesar’s Head and Jones Gap state parks. I asked the ranger for a moderate hike, and he recommended the Raven Cliffs Falls Trail, which was located about a mile north of the Visitor’s Center.
Raven Cliffs Falls Trail
I found a spot in the primary parking area (the lot is frequently full, but there is an overflow area just up the road to the north), and then filled out my hiker registration slip. For the parks in the Mountain Bridge, each hiker/group has to fill out a slip with their information and their vehicle information, as well as their hiking destination, time of departure, etc. The trailhead is just across the road from the parking lot.
The higher elevation and lush forest helped keep the heat from the sun at bay, but it also held more humidity on the trail, making for a sweaty hike. It’s a very pretty trail through the woods that I enjoyed very much.
After two miles, I arrived at the overlook. You don’t actually get to Raven Cliffs Falls on this particular trail, but there is a nice overlook constructed to view the very high falls across a ravine.
I hung out at the overlook for about twenty minutes, ate some lunch, and enjoyed the distant sound of the waterfall. There are trails that take you back to the falls (above it, actually, on a suspension bridge), but it is labeled as very strenuous and it’s also currently closed. Phew! I hiked back up to the car for a 3.9 mile round-trip hike with 600 feet of ascent.
Table Rock State Park
I hopped in the car and headed north from the trailhead to YMCA Camp Road, at the end of which is a YMCA Camp with an amazing overlook called “Pretty Place”. Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for someone else, I could not get to Pretty Place because it was being used for a wedding. I’ll hit that again next time I’m up at Caesar’s Head.
I drove back down the mountain and headed west on Highway 11, which is another beautiful road.
That led me to Table Rock State Park, which has a lake popular with swimmers – it was packed. I drove through the park, stopping only at the Table Rock overlook, with great views of Table Rock and Stool Mountain.