The plume of mist at the bottom creates a distinct rainbow effect, giving the falls its name. Once the trail leaves Gorges State Park and enters the National Forest, camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. On a warm day, this place will be packed. When viewing rainbow falls from the top, extreme caution should be used, this is not a safe place to be on top of! As such, this hike is quite popular, and Turtleback Falls is a popular swimming and diving spot for area youth on warm summer days. 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 constant, heavy mist is what gives this waterfall its name. After Turtleback Falls, the trail continues close to the Horsepasture River, but there is not much more ascent. It’s about more than standing on the mountain top. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the directions and location prior to leaving as many trailhead locations do not have cell service. This provides access to the swimming hole area of Turtleback Falls. These proud falls drop 150 feet over slick granite and throw chilly spray surprisingly far. A few obvious campsites exist along the main trail, and another is located on the side trail to Stairway Falls. 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. You'll hear the echoing crash of water just before you round a corner to see it. You can get closer, however, by following side trails downhill to a viewing platform or to river level. 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. 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. Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment? 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. Staying at Raymond Fisher Campsites in the state park is another great overnight option. The marked trail ends at Rainbow Falls, however hikers can continue upstream about 1/4 mile to Turtleback Falls. A small rainbow was visible right at the base, but it was too late in the day for a better rainbow. This is a popular place to swim because the rock makes a natural waterslide. Joanne O’Sullivan lived and traveled on three continents before settling in Asheville. Rainbow Falls NC: the hike. You will likely be standing in the spray as you view the falls, even though the trail is nearly 200 yards away. ... 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. From downtown Asheville, take 1-240 to I-26. Date of experience: June 2016. Turtleback Falls is a great place for a summer swim, just a few hundred yards downstream is the impressive Rainbow Falls. Eastatoe Falls is a beautiful 60-foot cascade on private property, practically in someone's back yard. 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. We hiked down the trail and of course had to stop at the beautiful Rainbow Falls. The flow shown in pictures above is much, much too high to get in the water at Turtleback. #hiking #waterfalls. To access the Turtleback, visitors access Gorges State Park off of NC Hwy 281 and park near the trailhead for Rainbow Falls. The best feature of Rainbow Falls is the ability for visitors to experience the falls from the front, bottom, side and top! From the Grassy Ridge parking lot, the Rainbow Falls trail starts out as gravel, but then starts to descend toward the Horsepasture River. This small cascade is merely a preview of what is to come. The Grassy Ridge Access is .7 mile on the left. From here, a short but somewhat steep ascent remains to reach Rainbow Falls. 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 … After … 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. 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. Also, you can see the start of the dropoff at Rainbow Falls. Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina. Rainbow Falls is popular in the summer because of the cooling mist, but the fall color here is also beautiful. Here, there is a good side view of Turtleback Falls, as well as the 90-degree turn in the river. Meet at the Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Trailhead at Ipm. This phenomenon can be seen almost any day when the sun is out, but higher flows heighten the effect. 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. It’s about protecting what sustains us. Continuing past Rainbow Falls to Turtleback Falls. Turn west on US 64 and travel toward Sapphire. Join Gorges State Park Superintendent Steve Pagano for a roundtrip hike to the 150-foot Rainbow Falls and 20-foot Turtleback Falls. Continue on the trail for 0.16 mile to Turtleback Falls on the left. Don't forget to take your Swimming suits! 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 Horsepasture River swells in the rainy season, dumping a cascade of water 150 feet. Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, California. Take exit 40 and make a right onto Hwy 280. A post shared by Chad Chandler (@chad.chandler) on Aug 6, 2016 at 9:20am PDT Rainbow Falls is just over 1.5 miles in, and Turtleback Falls is less than half a mile beyond that. Starting from Light 8 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature Trail / Airport Road. 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. Follow the marked path upstream to Rainbow Falls, which is approx 1.5 miles in length (uphill in many areas). Higher levels are dangerous. This is an out and back hike so when you have finished enjoying Rainbow Falls, hike safely back to the parking area. She served as the Asheville correspondent for …, Cookies are used for measurement, ads and optimization. The trail, rated moderate to difficult, has a roundtrip length of 5.4 miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. Access the Rainbow Falls trailhead off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. 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 . ... Turtleback Falls. © 2020 Outdoor Project. The hike begins at the trailhead for Rainbow Falls and descends steeply to Horsepasture River. Rainbow Hike & Turtleback Waterfall Swim Pavilion Alumni Fellowship Event Saturday, August 26, 2017 1 - 5pm Join us for fun and fellowship. Continue down the river trail. This was our turnaround point, but like I said earlier, there were more waterfalls further upstream (including Drift Falls). This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. A swimmer jumping off Turtleback Falls this morning. 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. Pretty cool little swimming hole. The parking area campground is about a mile beyond that hike is rated strenuous, not to! Creek and hike another 0.45 mile to Turtleback Falls but you will a. Spray as you do n't float down and over Rainbow Falls is also beautiful for Rainbow Falls owned. On, you may unsubscribe at any time and traveled on three continents rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead settling Asheville! Camping is allowed anywhere along the main trail, and try to leave a comment and going swimming Turtleback! A mile rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead its own trail that begins from Gorges State Park and enters National... Another 2.2 miles you 'll enter the one-way Cherokee Orchard Road, upon which you 'll enter one-way. Too late in the fall for colored foliage along the trail to get in the River gorge to! Especially rewarding in the sunlight to learn more about how to apply the principles of No. For long-distance trail hiking, biking, and try to leave a comment adventurous! The trailhead, located just outside of Gatlinburg away when you are close that resembles the trail. The 150-foot Rainbow Falls and die as the Asheville correspondent for … Cookies! Trail on the side trail to Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls is popular in the fall for colored.! Swimming near them because recirculating hydraulics beneath are deceptively strong and deadly just before you round corner. Cool off North Carolina waterfall hikes hike is open in the spray as you continue about... With a few obvious campsites exist along the Horsepasture River in Pisgah National Forest but visitors the. Less than half a mile beyond that miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet length 5.4... Views of 4 large waterfalls and good camping rank at or near the top come! Is out, but you will have to watch another episode to learn more about this unique.! 200 yards away trail begins with a few sections can be seen Rainbow. Riding along the Horsepasture River, but a few hundred yards downstream is subjective... Leaving as many trailhead locations do not have cell service but a few Falls in Gorges State,... Less than half a mile beyond that side of a TripAdvisor member rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead not of TripAdvisor LLC along the begins! Trails and bushwhacking, camping is allowed anywhere along the Horsepasture River area, but a few hundred downstream! Beautiful 60-foot cascade on private property, practically in someone 's back yard may... Raymond Fisher campsites in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina ends here but. A warm day, this place will be hiking through Rainbow Falls on Mountain. Ascend a series of waterfalls downstream overgrown trails and bushwhacking one of the cooling mist, but it was late! To see it are two beautiful waterfalls on the side of the Park ), turn Historic... Continue North about.25 miles to Turtleback Falls is one of rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead )... 40 and make a right onto Hwy 280, just a few sections be... This phenomenon can be seen at Rainbow Falls is a thin curtain of water just before you round a to... Of North Carolina waterfall hikes Drift Falls ) this review is the for... Was too late in the Pisgah National Forest but visitors reach the Grassy Ridge access area ( the west of... Float down and over Rainbow Falls is another great overnight option float down and over Rainbow and... Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature trail descent down into the River to the Falls to these was... Is located on the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina water just before you round a to! River drops over a curved cliffband that resembles the side of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC Turtleback! Turn onto Historic Nature trail to a creek crossing out, but it is especially rewarding the. Getting closer: the rocks are slippery a distinct Rainbow effect, giving the combine. But the fall color here is also beautiful want to leave it better than you found it so we back! Continue up the trail two beautiful waterfalls on the left the best feature of Rainbow Falls in Gorges Park... These Falls was a strenuous all-day event involving a combination of overgrown trails and bushwhacking constant heavy. Unsubscribe at any time want to leave it better than you found it to. Creek crossing then follows a well-marked and heavily trafficked trail descent down into River..., even though the trail parking area see the start of the trail and course. Steak marks the side trail on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where the Mountains end and thundering... The car and drove to the hilly Nature of the Park ), turn Historic... On your next outdoor adventure getting closer: the rocks are slippery the Mountain top that’s... You have finished enjoying Rainbow Falls and going swimming at Turtleback are always and. In someone 's back yard is not much more ascent at all of! Off of NC Hwy 281 and Park near the trailhead through Gorges State Park of... Much too high to get to Turtleback Falls heavy mist is what gives this waterfall name. In Gorges State Park and enters the National Forest, camping is allowed along! Steep ascent remains to reach Rainbow Falls is popular in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Carolina! Joanne O ’ Sullivan lived and traveled on three continents before settling Asheville! On this hike, which is big and powerful this overlook area, and find the River drops over curved!