Hiking Trail Review
Raymond Fisher Trail
Gorges State Park

The Raymond Fisher Trail  in Gorges State Park offers a great getaway for hikers and campers.  This trail culminates in a beautiful mountain pond.

Raymond Fisher Trail in Gorges State Park

The Raymond Fisher Trail beckons.

Photo by Bret James Stewart


From N.C.:  Take U.S. Highway 64 to N.C. 281 South.  Turn onto N.C. 281 South.  Travel .9 miles from U.S. Highway 64 to Park Entrance.

From S.C.:  Take S.C. Highway 11 to S.C. Highway 130 North.  Turn onto 130 North.  Travel 10.2 miles to the North Carolina State line.  S.C. Highway 130 becomes N.C. 281.  Travel 7.8 miles to Gorges State Park Entrance.

From Park Entrance:  Travel one mile to the new visitor’s centre.  Continue travelling straight for .6 miles (a total of 1.6 miles from the park entrance) to the Grassy Ridge Parking Area.

This large parking area features nice long-range views, a picnic table, portable toilets, and the Grassy Ridge trailhead in the southwestern corner of the parking lot.  Two trails begin here:  the Rainbow Falls Trail and the Raymond Fisher Trail.  These two trails overlap initially.

Blaze Markings:  blue metal circles

Length:  1.5 miles (approximately .75 mile each way; the trail does not end at another trail or accessible location); exactly 3917 feet.

Difficulty:  moderate; due to elevation change and distance.

Raymond Fisher Pond on Raymond Fisher Trail in Gorges State Park

View across Raymond Fisher Pond to Raymond Fisher Trail (atop the dam).

Photo by Bret James Stewart

The Raymond Fisher Trail is a moderate trail leading to a beautiful mountain pond nestled in the mountains.   Eight primitive campsites are near the pond.  Each campsite features a camping pad, a fire ring, a picnic table, and a lantern hook.  Pit toilets are nearby.  There is a fee for camping; self-registration is provided at the kiosk at the Grassy Ridge trailhead.

The Raymond Fisher Trail is presumably named for a local resident of that name who lived in the vicinity at the aptly named “Raymond Fisher Place.”  Raymond, along with his father and two brothers, drowned in a fishing accident, almost certainly involving  dynamiting fish.   

 I hiked this trail in late September.  The morning started out clear and crisp as mountain mornings are, but it warmed up quickly to become relatively hot by early afternoon.  The leaves had just begun to change, with some species or individual areas displaying a mild splash of colour to the scenery.   I spooked a doe around 3080’.  She ran off into an ivy thicket.  It is astounding how hard it was to see her if she stopped moving.  Even with my eyes on her, she seemed to fade away, her dun and white colouring blending perfectly with the grey-white of the ivy stems and the brown of the leaves.  We played peek-a-boo as I tried to get a photo and she tried to deny me—ultimately, she was victorious.

The Raymond Fisher Trail begins at the Grassy Ridge trailhead in the southwestern corner of the Grassy Ridge parking area.  Several kiosks dealing with the hiking trails, camping for the Raymond Fisher Trail and along the Horsepasture River, and some general interesting environmental/ecological information pertaining to the park are present.  The two trails commencing from the trailhead, the Rainbow Falls Trail (orange blazes) and the Raymond Fisher Trail (blue blazed), overlap for about ¼ mile.  Large portions of the trail are graced with the glossy green of galax (Galax urceolata) and, a little higher, ivy bush (Kalmia latifolia) and laurel (Rhododendron maximum). 

At 1195’, a small bench suitable for one person is present for those who tire easily.

At 1424’, the Rainbow Falls Trail and the Raymond Fisher Trail diverge.  The Raymond Fisher Trail proceeds to the left; the Rainbow Falls Trail to the right.  There is an official Park sign complete with the blaze colours on it present at the fork.

At 2163’, a gate blocks the trail from a gravel road (I believe this is Chestnut Mountain Road commencing off the corner of the Grassy Ridge parking area).  The trail resumes straight across the road.  A pair of rocks mark the trail on either side of the road.  Oddly, there is a trail crossing sign on only one side of the gravel road to warn vehicles of possible pedestrians.  The gravel on the trail ends soon after crossing.  From here, the trail winds down into the bottom where the pond is located.

At 3340’, the trail enters a decently-sized laurel thicket.

At 3390’, turkey brush is along both sides of the path and continues all the way to the pond and around it.  This is the largest patch of turkey brush I have ever encountered. 

At 3697’, the path reaches the Raymond Fisher pond that is the focal point of the trail.  The campsites are across from the pond to the hiker’s right as he follows the trail.  The trail continues across the dam toward the visible kiosk.

At 3917’, the trail ends at a kiosk.

Detail running ground pine and white pine sapling at Raymond Fisher Pond in Gorges State Park

The True and the False--running ground pine forms a miniature grove as a white pine sapling looks on in amusement.  Near Raymond Fisher Pond.

Photo by Bret James Stewart

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