Hike to Rainbow Falls and Pretty Place
South Carolina › Jones Gap Parking Area
Added by Seth Berry
A strenuous hike to the spectacular 140-foot Rainbow Falls and to breathtaking Pretty Place Chapel is well worth the adventure and effort.
Jones Gap State Park in the Upstate of South Carolina is one of the most beautiful parks in the state offering a good range of moderate and challenging hiking and backpacking trails through the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Jones Gap also provides superb primitive camping sites along the rocky and scenic Middle Saluda River. You can make camping reservations here.
One of my favorite adventures in this area is to camp along the Middle Saluda River, then hike to Rainbow Falls, and continue on to Pretty Place Chapel. Be sure to allow a full day to do this challenging but rewarding hike and carry a day pack with water and snacks. Depending on if you decide to camp at one of the various trail side camping spots (reservations and fees required through the State Park), the total round hike to the waterfall, the chapel, and back is roughly 6.75 miles.
The hike to Rainbow Falls is a steep climb that crosses over several foot bridges along the river. It takes about 2.2 miles to get to the base of the waterfall from the park's registration area. The 140-foot waterfall plunges over a granite cliff surrounded by steep granite walls in the secluded gorge.
Continue on up the trail where you see it branches off towards Pretty Place Chapel. The chapel is on the property of a YMCA camp named Camp Greenville. This section is not as well maintained and has several sections that require using existing ropes and hand holds to advance up the trail along the rock cliffs. Then once you get to the road, continue hiking along the road to the right towards the chapel's parking area. This outdoor chapel was constructed in 1941 and offers spectacular views from the top of Standing Stone Mountain overlooking Jones Gap below. From here, return back on the trail that you came on back down to Jones Gap State Park.
- Hiking Poles
- Hiking shoes/boots
- Rain gear
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
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
Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography
Spring, Summer, Autumn
Are we missing something?Suggest an edit
ReviewsLeave a Review
This was a really good hike, and one of the prettiest places I have visited yet. We took a wrong turn but still made it up to pretty place, we took the right trail back down which was much better. Highly recommend, and the camping spots look awesome as well.
A Hike Everyone Should Do At Least Once
I've been hiking this trail since I was a kid, mostly due to my recurring participation in the YMCA Camp Greenville Summer camp, and the falls have never ceased to take my breath away.
So this was the first hike to start off my outdoor adventures! I was not in any sort of hiking shape and this trail kicked my butt! However, it was so beautiful along the way. Once you get to the falls every bead of sweat was worth it!
More Adventures Nearby
Hike Swamp Rabbit Trail to Reedy River Falls
South Carolina / Mayberry Park Parking
Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 21 mile-long paved walkway that closely follows the Reedy River in Downtown Greenville.
Hike to Yellow Branch Falls
South Carolina / Yellow Branch Picnic Area
Once you have turned into the picnic area off of Highway SC 28, you will see the open and easy parking area. The trail begins at 2 points on the southern end of the parking area.