Hike to Rainbow Falls in Gorges SP

Details

Distance

3.5 miles

Elevation Gain

800 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

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.

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Know for

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

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Reviews

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Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

7 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

about 3 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

over 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.

589 total saves

4.5/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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