An easy 1.5 mile loop to a unique feature over Poe Creek – a natural bridge.
Keowee/Toxaway State Park of South Carolina is home to a unique, and quite possibly exclusive, geological wonder that you don’t see everywhere – a natural bridge. This isn’t a huge natural bridge like in some neighboring states but it is, nonetheless, a legitimate natural bridge that is both easy to get to and worth checking out. The 1.5 mile loop trail is very well maintained and moderate hike down to Poe Creek where the natural bridge is located.
Keowee Toxaway State Park is located at 108 Residence Drive in Sunset South Carolina. It is directly off Highway 11 or the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway about 18 miles east of Walhalla South Carolina or 19 miles west of the highway 276 turnoff to Caesars Head State Park. Look for the large sign that is easily viewed from the highway. As you enter the park take the first right and the trail starts in the corner of the upper parking lot behind the visitors center. Keowee-Toxaway State Park is open from 9am – 9pm during daylight saving time. During standard time the park is open from 9am – 6pm except on Fridays when it stays open until 8pm. There are restroom facilities onsite.
The trailhead for the Natural Bridge trail starts in the far corner of the lot to the left of the informative signboard which has a nice map of the trail. The trail is easy to follow and is blazed with white diamonds.
The trail is initially very flat and parallels the highway for a short time. Fairly quickly you encounter the return part of the loop but continue following the trail straight. The trail will start to steadily descend as you walk through the forest down towards Poe Creek. As you walk deeper into the forest, the occasional sounds from the road fade into nothing. As you get closer to Poe Creek, the decent increases although it is never really becomes too steep.
When you reach Poe Creek, you are at the natural bridge. The large rock that crosses the creek is the natural bridge over the water. It is difficult to tell as you are on top of the bridge but you can easily walk down to either side to get a good view of the creek as it tunnels under the rock for about 20 feet.
When you have finished checking out the natural bridge, continue on the trail where quickly you encounter the trail to Raven Rock which is a 3.1 mile loop. Just before the turnoff for Raven Rock, there is a very short spur leading down to the creek where there is a small but beautiful cascade that you can check out.
Continue on the trail past the Raven Rock trail where you will continue to descend as you follow Poe Creek eventually crossing back over it. After you cross the creek, you have about 3/4’s of a mile left and the trail ascends in order to complete the loop. The climb is steady but includes stairs in some of the steepest sections and there are numerous places to stop along the trail to catch your breath and enjoy the beauty of Poe Creek, you’ll even come across a few benches along the route if you want to take an extended break to enjoy the nature surrounding you.
As the trail starts to level off you will reconnect with the main trail heading right to the trailhead and taking you back to the parking area.