• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.75 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2150 Feet

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

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.

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Daypack
  • Water
  • Food/snacks
  • Hiking Poles
  • Hiking shoes/boots
  • Camera
  • Tent
  • Rain gear
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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

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This park is beautiful and offers so many options for great treks AND is usually less crowded than others. Leave time to relax at the falls before hiking up to the church/overlook which is about 3/4 of a mile up on a not very well maintained trail. Check in with the park ranger when you park and they will show you a map of the area to help you navigate. There is one point on that trail where you will want to continue straight but the trail actually turns left up a rock. You know you went the right way when right around the corner from the big rock are ropes to help you climb the next set of rocks. Don't fear...Beautiful views await!

12 months ago
12 months ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Seth Berry Explorer

A nature and travel photographer from South Carolina. Exploring the great outdoors, capturing stunning and breathtaking photos, and inspiring people through photography is my passion. View my work at www.SethBerryPhotography.com

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