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

nc Map
VIEW FULL MAP

A nice hike up from the lower parking to the upper parking by the bridge. It is very rocky and it was helpful to have hiking boots on, versus tennis shoes.

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.

Really great hike. Good trail for beginners as there are not many difficult parts to it, but one is still rewarded with breathtaking views. I suggest going around noon or in the afternoon as in the morning the views are a little limited.

Great hike, even though it downpours on our return. Amazing views, beautiful flowers, somewhat challenging terrain on the salamander trail coming back to the parking lot. Be sure to return on Salamander Trail or you will end up at the wrong parking lot and have to walk a mile on skyline drive. We caught the error before we had gone too far and climbed back up.Dog friendly hike.

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

Cons:
* 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

I must see what an adventure

Great hike especially with younger hikers. Awesome views and a real sense of you made it to the top for the young ones.

Clockwise is the easier route.

A rocky and winding pathway, wide enough and well maintained for a hike from the parking lot to the Mile High Swinging Bridge. As easy hike as well.

Great family hike.

Went after a heavy rain and waterfalls was amazing!!

One of my favorite hikes! Went counterclockwise, (AT | Salamander | peak | Lower Hawksbill Trail). Perfect balance of great terrain, elevation and some of the best panoramic views. On the trail, you’ll cross over rock fields in the middle of the trail. To note... From this direction, you’ll come to a fork in the road. There is a wooden pole with an arrow spray-painted on it that points right. Going that way will continue on Appalachian Trail to Rock Spring Hut. To complete the loop (to Salamander), go left (opposite of the arrow). I went about .5 miles before realizing and having to backtrack. On course... great climb to the highest peak in SNP!

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.

The parking lot is big but fills quickly so arrive early. There is a short hike up switchbacks and stairs to get to the top quickly or a long gravel road to get there more easily but takes longer. I'm 60 and found the switchbacks to be easy and the best route. I went on an overcast day and found that visibility was 0 feet when I got to the many viewing areas along the SE face of the mountain. However, after lingering for 15 minutes the haze lifted and visibility stretched to the horizon after about 30 minutes. The main trail is well guarded by safety fences but the side trails are not so watch children. I'm posting the hazy pictures but also some unique photos of the mountain taken off-trail. There are many gated communities in the area but the shot of the mountain over the lake was taken on Whiteside Cove Road at 35* 04.035'N and 083* 07.194'W. The clear and sunny shots were taken at a place called "The Spa" along SR-64 between Cashiers and Sapphire. (It is a beautiful place that is not gated and the people were friendly.)

Great exercise. Limited viewpoints was only negative

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.

Nice family hike with our 15, 10 and 2 year old. A lot of hikers for A Friday morning. Easy hike up the gravel trail. Great views along the ridge line and nice hike down the other side. Once you reach the top, make sure you follow the trail to see the views along the ridge even if you come back down the gravel, easy trail.

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.

Hiking to the tallest point in SNP is a great experience! The trail is lovely and features some beautiful talus slopes. We went counter-clockwise, which left the view towards the end but went down the steeper trail. Overall, the elevation gain is not too strenuous and the trail is well maintained. The peak, even when crowded, has plenary of outcropping to sit and enjoy the view, including the built up observation deck. Look for Old Rag in the distance! This is such a great, quick hike. Highly recommend!

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.

hiking
21 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..

Great, quick hike. Hiked trail clockwise --very steep at first, very gradual after the summit
Cloudy day, still had glimpses of beautiful vistas

Load More