Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, California. The hike is open in the winter, when the mist has been known to turn to ice. Eastatoe Falls is a beautiful 60-foot cascade on private property, practically in someone's back yard. As such, this hike is quite popular, and Turtleback Falls is a popular swimming and diving spot for area youth on warm summer days. She served as the Asheville correspondent for …, Cookies are used for measurement, ads and optimization. In another 0.11 mile, come to a creek crossing. Rainbow Falls is popular in the summer because of the cooling mist, but the fall color here is also beautiful. It is worth a pause, however, especially if you are intent on swimming because the pool here is nice if flows aren't too high. Ask nswieder about Gorges State Park. People slide down these falls and swim in the swimming hole beneath them, but the currents can be extremely strong so, again, be cautious. On a warm day, this place will be packed. The Best Winter Adventures in North America. Continue up the trail to get to Turtleback Falls. After driving another 2.2 miles you'll enter the one-way Cherokee Orchard Loop Road. It’s about building relationships with the outdoors and each other. You know, as long as you don't float down and over Rainbow Falls and die. While it’s certainly not safe to swim on or near Rainbow Falls, many people use Turtleback Falls as a natural waterslide and swimming area. We promise not to annoy you, but if you wish, you may unsubscribe at any time. A few obvious campsites exist along the main trail, and another is located on the side trail to Stairway Falls. Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina. Rainbow Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfall settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This hike is beautiful at all times of year, but it is especially rewarding in the fall for colored foliage. The flow shown in pictures above is much, much too high to get in the water at Turtleback. After driving 0.7 miles veer right onto Cherokee Orchard Road, upon which you'll enter into Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 2 Thank nswieder . Outdoor Project may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers. Access the Rainbow Falls trailhead off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. You must self register at the parking area, but there is no fee. The hike departs from the Grassy Ridge trailhead in Gorges State Park, near Cashiers, NC (view maps and driving directions).Gorges State Park is one of the newest in North Carolina’s state park system, and with an annual rainfall of over 80 inches, the park classifies as a temperate rain forest. This popular trail is jointly maintained by Gorges State Park and the Pisgah Ranger District. Gorges State Park is located on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where the mountains end and the Piedmont begins. From the Grassy Ridge parking lot, the Rainbow Falls trail starts out as gravel, but then starts to descend toward the Horsepasture River. ... Mark - according to the best GPS data I have, it's 1.379km or 0.85mi from the trailhead parking to the park boundary, and 2.492km or 1.55mi all the way from the trailhead parking area to the overlook for the falls. Retrace back and continue on to Turtleback Falls and the thundering Rainbow Falls. This phenomenon can be seen almost any day when the sun is out, but higher flows heighten the effect. To access the Turtleback, visitors access Gorges State Park off of NC Hwy 281 and park near the trailhead for Rainbow Falls. The trail above the falls continues to Turtleback Falls but you will have to watch another episode to learn more about this unique destination. However, the trail to Rainbow Falls isn’t long distance and makes for… The trail accesses the Horse Pasture River and follows it upstream. Higher levels are dangerous. Gorges State Park is 3:00 hours from Charlotte An 8:45 AM meetup at the trailhead would allow hiking by 9:00. “Rainbow Falls & Turtleback Trailhead” location is available in Google Maps & Waze. These are two beautiful waterfalls on the Horsepasture River in Pisgah National Forest. Rainbow Falls sits on the Horsepasture River on U.S. Forest Service property, but the entrance to the 1.5-mile trail to the waterfalls starts in Gorges State Park. We believe good things come from people spending time outside. This magical sight can be seen at Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park, one of the best Western North Carolina waterfall hikes. A small rainbow was visible right at the base, but it was too late in the day for a better rainbow. It’s about more than standing on the mountain top. Continue down the river trail. Turtleback Falls is another quarter mile up the trail from Rainbow Falls. These proud falls drop 150 feet over slick granite and throw chilly spray surprisingly far. The constant, heavy mist is what gives this waterfall its name. Just a As you continue on, you'll soon come to Rainbow Falls, which is big and powerful. The trail gets narrower as you pass through a hardwood forest, but you’ll follow along the side of the river most of the way to the falls. Cross the creek and hike another 0.45 mile to Rainbow Falls on the left. Can be crowded. By continuing to use our site you agree to our, Fall Forecast and Weekly Fall Color Report, Request a Website Listing & Partner Account. After Turtleback Falls, the trail continues close to the Horsepasture River, but there is not much more ascent. The trail then follows the river to the waterfall. You will likely be standing in the spray as you view the falls, even though the trail is nearly 200 yards away. The falls combine a slide and short free fall into a 20-foot drop and a deep splash pool. Follow the marked path upstream to Rainbow Falls, which is approx 1.5 miles in length (uphill in many areas). We hiked down the trail and of course had to stop at the beautiful Rainbow Falls. Turtleback Falls and the brink of Rainbow Falls. With a few creek crossings here, prepare to get your feet wet. This is a popular place to swim because the rock makes a natural waterslide. Pretty cool little swimming hole. Rainbow Falls NC: the hike. Rainbow Falls is just over 1.5 miles in, and Turtleback Falls is less than half a mile beyond that. #hiking #waterfalls. So we headed back to the car and drove to the Rainbow Falls trailhead parking area. Slippery trail near falls. Several signs at the trailhead warn against swimming, but there are a few safe spots to take a dip if you exercise caution and common sense. When you arrive at the falls, you’ll feel it: a cool mist will soak you. Located in the Pisgah National Forest, adjacent to Gorges State Park, Rainbow Falls is just one of … Just past the popular North Carolina waterfall, Rainbow Falls, is the unique Turtleback Falls that is a popular waterslide and swimming hole.While there is a 3.5 mile round trip hike required to access Turtleback Falls, during the warm Carolina Summer months expect this … Join Gorges State Park Superintendent Steve Pagano for a roundtrip hike to the 150-foot Rainbow Falls and 20-foot Turtleback Falls. This small cascade is merely a preview of what is to come. After the rockhouse, you will ascend a series of steps next to Turtleback Falls. At roughly the 1-mile mark there is small side trail leading to Stairway Falls, which you can take for your first glimpse of the river. We will be hiking through Rainbow Falls and going swimming at Turtleback Falls in Gorges State Park. You'll hear the echoing crash of water just before you round a corner to see it. The Grassy Ridge Access is .7 mile on the left. This short hike along the Horsepasture River features outstanding views of 4 large waterfalls and good camping. These are two beautiful waterfalls on the Horsepasture River in Pisgah National Forest. Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. The five acres are developed with a parking area, trail head, covered kiosk with historical and geological interpretive information, picnic benches and tables, a 0.15 mile trail from the parking area to the Falls, secondary trails along Fountain Creek, and viewing overlooks. It faces mostly south and it gets a lot of sun, and when rays hit the droplets you'll see a rainbow framing the falls. This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Here the river drops over a curved cliffband that resembles the side of a turtle's shell. The water is so strong that you must exercise extreme caution when getting closer: the rocks are slippery. Turtleback Falls is a great place for a summer swim, just a few hundred yards downstream is the impressive Rainbow Falls. The hike begins at the trailhead for Rainbow Falls and descends steeply to Horsepasture River. Date of experience: June 2016. While you’ll probably want to linger for a while, you can also continue up the trail for around 10 more minutes to Turtleback Falls, a low waterfall over a curved rock that resembles a turtle shell. Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter packed with the best adventure guides, travel ideas, news, and articles. Rainbow Falls Trail located in Gorges State Park, NC is a rally nice deep woods hike, that begins in Gorges State Park and ends in Pisgah National Forest at either Rainbow Falls or Turtleback Falls. We've hiked quite a few falls in NC, but Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls rank at or near the top. The trail begins with a long descent down into the river gorge. Rainbow Falls is just over 1.5 miles in, and Turtleback Falls is less than half a mile beyond that. The hike is rated strenuous, not due to the length, but due to the hilly nature of the trail itself. Continue past this overlook area, and follow the trail that continues up. The best feature of Rainbow Falls is the ability for visitors to experience the falls from the front, bottom, side and top! The Horsepasture River swells in the rainy season, dumping a cascade of water 150 feet. The Horsepasture River thunders down a 125-foot drop spraying up a mist that creates rainbows that sparkle in the sunlight. When viewing rainbow falls from the top, extreme caution should be used, this is not a safe place to be on top of! It’s about protecting what sustains us. From here, a short but somewhat steep ascent remains to reach Rainbow Falls. Almost everyone does this as a simple day hike, but backcountry camping is allowed in the national forest once you have crossed out of state park bounds. This provides access to the swimming hole area of Turtleback Falls. This is an out and back hike so when you have finished enjoying Rainbow Falls, hike safely back to the parking area. Rainbow Falls is an incredible 150-foot waterfall that’s located in the Pisgah National Forest but visitors reach the trailhead through Gorges State Park. Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment? You’ll see a small trail going down as you come to the falls. Start the trail by descending on a moderate grade downhill. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure. Be careful because surfaces are always muddy and slick in the spray zone. Once the trail leaves Gorges State Park and enters the National Forest, camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Hike Details Difficulty: Moderate Length: 1.5 miles each way to Rainbow Falls, an additional 1 mile round-trip to Turtleback Falls Region: Duration of hike: 30 minutes each way (add an extra 10 each way for Turtleback) Elevation gain: 800 Feet Type: Out & Back Blazes: Orange Circles Facilities & Parking: Parking lot, portable toilet Call or text Reed McKenzie Joanne O’Sullivan lived and traveled on three continents before settling in Asheville. This 150-ft. tall waterfall is impressive, especially after rainy weather that swells the Horsepasture River. The plume of mist at the bottom creates a distinct rainbow effect, giving the falls its name. Camp only in spots that have clearly been used before, and try to leave it better than you found it. From downtown Asheville, take 1-240 to I-26. The Rainbow Falls Trail is approximately the same as the route taken by Paul Adams as he led the first Park Commission trip to LeConte, which helped lead to the formation of the national park. The Rainbow Falls Historic Site consists of the namesake Rainbow Falls and a small series of waterfalls downstream. Continuing past Rainbow Falls to Turtleback Falls. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the directions and location prior to leaving as many trailhead locations do not have cell service. The waterfalls must be barely more than a trickle to even consider swimming near them because recirculating hydraulics beneath are deceptively strong and deadly. Rainbow Falls is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is currently only accessible through Gorges State Park. To round out the day, go the extra distance to Turtleback Falls, a less impressive but uniquely pretty cascade less than a half-mile farther up river. A swimmer jumping off Turtleback Falls this morning. Hydraulics below can be strong, though, so swimming is only safe if the waterfall is a thin curtain of water. Continuing on the trail barely a couple hundred yards or so was Turtleback Falls (whose profile could also be seen from the top of Rainbow Falls). The going is mostly easy, but a few sections can be rugged or wet. At 0.99 mile from the trailhead, a brown carsonite steak marks the side trail on the left for Stairway Falls. It’s about nourishment and learning. Although it may be tempting to try to get photos from the top of the falls, don’t do it: it’s too dangerous. The marked trail ends here, but you continue north about .25 miles to Turtleback Falls. All rights reserved. Pools in the Horsepasture look inviting during the heat of summer, but use extreme caution because rocks are slippery and the currents in this steep river are always swift. Continue on the trail for 0.16 mile to Turtleback Falls on the left. A post shared by Chad Chandler (@chad.chandler) on Aug 6, 2016 at 9:20am PDT This primitive campground is about a mile down its own trail that begins from the same trailhead as Rainbow Falls. The 7,500-acre park in Lake Toxaway is known for long-distance trail hiking, biking, and horseback riding along the Horsepasture River. On sunny afternoons, visitors to the falls are treated to a stunning rainbow created by the water’s mist. This trail goes by a spur trail leading to Stairway Falls. Even wading can be dangerous. The trail to Rainbow Falls is a good example of this. © 2020 Outdoor Project. While it doesn’t affect your hike, you should know that the trail switches from Gorges State Park to Pisgah National Forest about 20 minutes after you leave the parking lot. This was our turnaround point, but like I said earlier, there were more waterfalls further upstream (including Drift Falls). Rainbow Hike & Turtleback Waterfall Swim Pavilion Alumni Fellowship Event Saturday, August 26, 2017 1 - 5pm Join us for fun and fellowship. Most continue past this intersection, though, and find the river a little farther up at Hidden Falls. The trail levels to reach Turtleback Falls at 1.65 miles, where the Horsepasture River cascades 25 feet over a large, curved rock outcrop into a pool below. The jouney to reach them begins from Gorges State Park at the Grassy Ridge Trailhead and then follows a well-marked and heavily trafficked trail. Take it for 16 miles to Highway 64. Starting from Light 8 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature Trail / Airport Road. Take exit 40 and make a right onto Hwy 280. To reach the Grassy Ridge Access Area (the west side of the park), turn south on NC 281 in Sapphire. ... Turtleback Falls. You can get closer, however, by following side trails downhill to a viewing platform or to river level. Meet at the Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Trailhead at Ipm. Rainbow Falls and nearby Turtleback Falls are featured on this hike, which is probably the best dayhike at Gorges State Park. Turtleback Falls is another .25 miles up the trail. At the 1.5 mile mark, you pass an overlook to the gorgeous Rainbow Falls. After … The hike to Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains begins from the Rainbow Falls Trailhead, located just outside of Gatlinburg. The trailhead is located inside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, off Cherokee Orchard Road, 3.4 miles (5.5 km) from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Here, there is a good side view of Turtleback Falls, as well as the 90-degree turn in the river. Staying at Raymond Fisher Campsites in the state park is another great overnight option. The trail, rated moderate to difficult, has a roundtrip length of 5.4 miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. Also, you can see the start of the dropoff at Rainbow Falls. Don't forget to take your Swimming suits! There is a nice swimming hole at the base of the falls for those adventurous visitors looking for a place to cool off. This hike is beautiful at all times of year, This is a moderate one way trail to Rainbow Falls in Pisgah National Forest. You will know right away when you are close. Only 5 years ago the hike to these falls was a strenuous all-day event involving a combination of overgrown trails and bushwhacking. The jouney to reach them begins from Gorges State Park at the Grassy Ridge Trailhead and then follows a well-marked and heavily trafficked trail. In all, Casey said, there are 11 warning signs from the park to Rainbow Falls, and then a short hike upstream to Turtleback Falls, where there have been fatalities in past years. The marked trail ends at Rainbow Falls, however hikers can continue upstream about 1/4 mile to Turtleback Falls. Turn west on US 64 and travel toward Sapphire. 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