Natural Bridge Trail
ElevationAscent: 157' 48 m
Descent: -174' -53 m
High: 1,087' 331 m
Low: 934' 285 m
GradeAvg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 15% (8°)
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“Short loop trail with a stream, small waterfalls, and two rock-hop crossings through the beautiful Jocassee Gorges area.”— Jeff Reynolds
The trailhead is located in the back corner of the upper parking lot of the Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center. The trail starts out co-marked for the Natural Bridge Trail as well as for the Eastatoe Passage of the Palmetto Trail. Trail marks are diamond shaped metal signs nailed to the trees as opposed to colorful paint blazes.
After 0.1 miles, the trail comes to a fork. Left takes you clockwise around the loop and also continues to follow the co-marked Eastatoe Passage of the Palmetto Trail. The left (clockwise) direction also puts you going downhill along the steepest portion of the trail (with steps). Mileage references going forward are in this direction but if climbing steps at the end of a run is your thing, proceed right and travel counter-clockwise.
From 0.1 miles to 0.4 miles the trail is steadily downhill, including the previously mentioned steps. Once in the low portion of the trail, the trail levels off and runs along and over Poe Creek. There are a couple of minor waterfalls with pools at the bottom that would serve as nice spots to stop and cool off on a hot summer day. There are also two rock-hop crossings of Poe Creek with which smaller kids may need a little assistance if there has previously been heavy rain. All should be able to cross, however, with dry feet.
At 0.6 miles, a well signed intersection marks the spot where the Raven Rock Trail and the Eastatoe Passage of the Palmetto Trail split off from the Natural Bridge Trail. The Raven Rock Trail is an additional 3.1 mile loop within the State Park that comes back to this spot whereas the Eastatoe Passage of the Palmetto Trail moves off of the State Park Property.
Staying straight ahead at the intersection on the Natural Bridge Trail (no longer co-signed) leads you to the feature for which this trail is named—the Natural Bridge—at just under 0.7 miles.
The remainder of the trail from here is a slow, steady climb back to the parking lot. Around the 1.0 mile mark, Highway 11 will come into sight and hearing range before the trail brings you back to that original fork in the trail at 1.2 miles. Stay straight to return to the parking lot (a right turn will take you on another lap).
At 1.3 miles, the parking lot and Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center will come back into view.
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Photos, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes
Land Manager: SC State Parks - Keowee-Toxaway State Park