Explore Nantahala N.F. - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Nantahala N.F. Map

Great views of the falls, stairs are new and easy to climb

Absolutely fabulous hike! Not really difficult, but can be a little muddy and slippery at parts. I highly suggest going all the way to the turtleback waterfall. Also, try going on the rocks (dry ones) that are a little bit off-path to get really good shots. We were warned about copperheads, but did not encounter any.

* Nice views of stream (with small waterfalls), forest, & mountains from tower on top.
* Consistent slope.
* Shady but not stuffy

* a few places it's overgrown as not used much
* Slippery in places

Other notes:
* more like 8.2 miles than 6.6 miles
* Narrow so single file

Have only done the upper portion from the parking lot to platform. Very easy. Post fire rebuild is excellent.

Started at upper parking area not as shown.

Went after a heavy rain and waterfalls was amazing!!

11 days ago

A quick and short walk to view the falls and it was impressive. The area has received a lot of rain recently and the falls showed it. If you are in the area it’s definitely worth the trip.

This state park has a gorgeous waterfall. There is a very large paved parking lot ($2) with parking available for buses and RVs. A paved trail leads up an easy slope to the first viewing area and takes about 10 minutes from car to viewing area. A long staircase of well-made and reasonable new steps lead down to a second viewing area that offers an even better view. From there a trail leads down to the water but a sign warns that there are no waterfall views below that point.

This trail starts in Gorges State Park (but eventually leaves the park property). Drive past the Visitors Center and down the hill to the large, paved parking lot. Downhill from the trailhead the trail splits - left is the Raymond Fisher Trail and right is the Rainbow Falls Trail. Go right. On the trail there are two creek crossings. The first is a shallow and easy two stepper but the second is a deeper six stepper. I made it across without poles. Rainbow Falls has two nice viewing areas (one farther away to take in the full view and one up close to feel the mist). Turtleback Falls is where all of the swimmers go to slide down the falls. There is no formal viewing area there but the large boulders are easy to climb and navigate and afford great views. Both waterfalls are particularly picturesque.

What a great day hike. I agree with the other posts about the directions. The trail head is not hard to find, but I was glad that we followed the directions posted by others on this site.

We took the Jones Gap side trail and we were glad that we did. The views are spectacular. There is significant diversity of trees and flowers on the trail and the hike is not too strenuous that our entire family - 18, 15, & 9 year olds included- did it have fun. At White Rock Gap, we dropped down to Stephens Creek and were really impressed by the trees along the way.

Overall, this is a great day hike and we will be back.

One of my favorite hikes. Busy in the summertime, but well worth it for how short it is!

It was a great hike not too long, but you definitely get a workout. There are some cute waterfalls along the trail, however, the view is not as great as expected.

Great hike to see two amazing waterfalls, Rainbow Falls and Turtelback Falls. Moderate to strenuous 3.9 mile trail beginning at Gorges State Park. Rainbow Falls is a super beautiful fall and incredible to see, while Turtelback is a great swimming hole area and water slide for the adventurous.

Great family hike! Moderate difficulty - mostly downhill to the falls so more difficult on the return. Bring water shoes if you plan to take a dip at the base of either falls . We slid off turtleback falls (which is not for the faint of heart) - and we swam at the base of rainbow falls. Lots of hikers and swimmers today.

The Rainbow falls trail was amazing. Plenty of waterfalls to be seen, a few are found off the main trail. The actual trail is wide enough to hike in groups. There are a ton of swim holes, as long as you are down from Rainbow. The main attraction is a great waterfall with a large cliff and high walls next to it. Trees appear to have been cut down to block the trail to the top of the falls, and signs are posted for safety. Over all a great day of hiking, swimming, and picture taking.

Great short trail with waterfall. The road without a name off Wayah rd. is Forest Service Rd. 388. There is a sign on this road @ 2 miles in for the trail.

7/26/18 - We had a blast on this trail. The drive to it was extremely easy and it’s really close to Franklin. It’s a long hike with some elevation so be ready, but the view from WIlliams Pulpit is worth every step. We went a little beyond the pulpit but stopped shortly after as we knew we still had 2 miles to make it back to the car.

23 days ago

This looped trail is really fun with great waterfall views. The road leading to it is 2 miles long of one lane section and can be a little dangerous, but we made it up and back just fine. If two cars need to pass in opposite directions, be cautious. Key is....be smart and drive up it slow.

Mellow trail out and back with a few pretty waterfalls and a nice payoff view. We are avid hikers from Colorado and it took us a little over 1.5 hours (out and back) at a relaxed but brisk pace. Would recommend for a close day hike to Franklin, NC

After hiking the Foothills Trail four times I have seen this one enough. Besides I like Upper Whitewater Falls better..

28 days ago

Great hike. Not extreme whatsoever, but there were some spots that required careful and steady footing. Only one spot with a large felled tree you have to climb over. Would definitely recommend!

Beautiful falls, great hike!

Nice paved path to go and see the overlook.
There will be few stairs to climb, otherwise fairly easy hike for all age levels.

1 month ago

I was wildly unimpressed with this trail. For starters there is a bus in the parking lot, ( which is way down a gravel road) The bus has people and dogs sleeping in it, and some of the dogs run out to “greet you” (bark aggressively). Once I made it past that the trail starts nice enough. Wide, rushing creek waters. It progressively goes downhill. The last mile or so the trail has several downed trees that for a short person were difficult to cross, and then it is SO narrow and SO overgrown, you cannot see where the trail is! Both my dog and I slipped off the side several times. Now, not only is the trail super overgrown with grass and other plants, but many of these plants have briars. My legs look like I had a fight with a wildcat. At some point in the overgrowth my dog stepped on a small snake- it slithered off, thank goodness, but by that point I told myself it we aren’t .25 or less from the top, we are turning around. We made it to the top and the views are fine. There is a shelter there too. I would have continued on one way or the other but the trail there was overgrown too. We hustled down. I was done. Overall this is really an easy trail as far an ascent. It is never so steep that I was out of breath. A very gradual climb. Honestly, Unless you hear of someone coming in with a weed whacker, I’d skip it.

1 month ago

these directions are wrong. loafers glory is on SR 1442, not 1448.

Great hike. Kinda busy on a hot day but I wouldn’t have considered it crowded at any time. Falls were impressive. I definitely went over the falls for a nice refreshing 55 degree cooldown lol.
Tons of places to peel off and just sit by the rapids and find your inner zen.

Excellent trail well worth the hike. Go during the week. Early morning is best. If not be prepared for large crowds of swimmers. Hiked it in about 2.5 hrs and that was with stopping for some pics. Make sure to hit both falls as the 2nd one is only a short hike from rainbow.

Great afternoon hike with a spectacular view of the falls. There are a few stop offs on the way to the base that are excellent for swimming.

July 3, 2018. Enjoyed this trail with 11 and 13 year olds -- 4 hours to summit and back including snack and rest at the top. It was definitely a moderate hike, challenging but fun -- no climbing over boulders.

Beautiful waterfalls! Lots of people...

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