Hike to Rainbow Falls in Gorges SP

Rainbow Falls Trailhead

Hike along roaring river to a 150 ft waterfall. There are also several other trails and falls to explore...so be prepared for a great day.

Rainbow Falls is one of the most scenic waterfalls in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. The Horsepasture River swells in the rainy season, dumping a cascade of water 150 feet. The plume of mist at the bottom creates a distinct rainbow effect, giving the falls its name. Hike to Rainbow Falls and explore the surrounding area - Turtleback Falls, a 20 ft drop over a curved rock, is just .3 miles upriver along the trail. When the current is not too strong, this is a popular rock for sliding and swimming. If you hike another .5 miles past Turtleback Falls, staying left at the fork, you'll reach a beautiful 80 foot slide called Drift Falls. This is on private property just outside the park so be especially courteous.

Park at the Grassy Ridge Parking Area in Gorges State Park and look for the large signs and trail maps. The trailhead is right near these signs and will lead you all the way to the falls. To get here from Hendersonville, drive 38 miles west on US 64 until you reach the junction for NC 281 South in Hogback. Take the 281 South for 2.6 miles and turn left on Grassy Ridge Rd. The parking lot with the trailhead will be on the right hand side after 1.8 miles driving on Grassy Ridge Rd.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Swimming suit
  • Towel
  • Picnic
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RT Distance 3.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 800 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Rainbow falls

In my opinion the nicest waterfall in Gorges State Park. The walk to the falls in not too difficult and is scenic.

Great! Bring Swimming Gear If Warm!

Love this hike! I'd say somewhat strenuous but over all a very fun rewarding hike for summer days! Hike past rainbow falls to turtleback falls and enjoy sliding down the mountain into safe deep water! Or jumping off a small ledge on rainbow falls (not at the very top)

Good Place To Hang Out

This place was great to hike down to and enjoy the view. Along with the sights you can get in and swim when it's hot outside making for an awesome place to bring lunch and chill out for a while. The hike back is mostly uphill but not too steep to handle. Although, I will agree in the afternoon it can get pretty crowded. But the large parking area, and multiple waterfalls/swimming holes make it very tolerable.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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