Hike to Rainbow Falls in Gorges SP

3.5 miles 800 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Edward Day

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.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Photography
Swimming
Hiking
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

about 2 months ago

I'd give it 6 stars if I could!

This is one of the best places for cliffjumping and all around fun. Rainbow falls has a few really good jumping spots but the real gem is Turtleback falls which is just on up the trail from Rainbow falls. Turtleback has a slide and jumping spot.

🥇Top Contributor

over 2 years ago

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)

🥈 Contributor

about 4 years ago

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.

This is one of my favorite falls to hike to since there are several falls involved and there are places for swimming. It's perfect for the summer time. I would suggest even camping at Gorges State Park and get to the falls early in the morning to avoid the crowds. Also, there's a spot behind Turtleback Falls where you can swim to that has a rock ledge allowing you to sit and chill behind the falls. It's things like this that turn this place into a favorite for me.

Stay Nearby

Sapphire, North Carolina

“Mountain Laurel Lodge” W/ Hot Tub & Firepit

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •The 5BR/3BA Mountain Laurel Lodge is tucked away in the trees on over an ac...

From $172/night

Sapphire, North Carolina

New Listing! “Bear Creek Cabin” On Hogback Lake

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Affectionately nicknamed Bear Creek Cabin, you’ll find an idyllic Blue Ridg...

From $93/night

Glenville, North Carolina

Spacious Mountaintop Estate Near Hiking Trails

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •This beautiful 5BR/5.5BA estate just outside Cashiers is an ideal spot for ...

From $291/night

Brevard, North Carolina

Chalet Style Home With 2 Decks, Sunroom, Amenities

• TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. •Tucked away in a gated community amidst the gorgeous woods of Asheville, th...

From $106/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike the Toxaway River Trail

    This easy 1.25 mile hike is located within the Lake Toxaway community. The trail itself follows a small creek as it winds through the valley. Be warned - there are numerous stream crossings. Most of the crossings are fairly easy at normal water le...

    1.25 miles

  • Kayak to Laurel Fork Falls

    This stunning waterfall tumbles down 80 feet before spilling into Lake Jocassee between a slot of shear rock cliffs. However, the catch is not many people see this beautiful location unless you have a boat or are willing to hike a streneous 8-mile...

  • Hike to Raven Rock Falls

    If you want to see a great waterfall without hiking all day, this is the perfect trail for you.  Getting there - The trailhead is about 2 miles from the intersection of Cold Mountain and Panther Ridge Road (exact coordinates: 35.1594, -82.9801). T...

    0.5 miles

  • Hike to Warden, Jawbone, and Riding Ford Falls

    Warden, Jawbone, and Riding Ford Falls are three waterfalls located along the headwaters of the Tuckasegee River in Panthertown Valley. Not far from the Cold Mountain trailhead, these falls are quite popular in the summer. On a weekend, you will o...

    4.5 miles