dogs on leash
The falls as a destination is disappointing. There are better falls on the side of the road driving to there. The enjoyment is the hike along the picturesque creek and navigating the multiple creek crossings. This isn't anywhere close to "easy" level though. The initial ascent is brutal for 30 minutes - left me dripping sweat from my head in 60 degree overcast weather. The trail is over rocks, loose leaves, water, and roots with some parts requiring hand holds to pull up. It isn't for small kids but is especially good for dogs! The unimpressive falls put this at 2 stars for me though.
I went to hike this trail 2 days ago (March 21, 2017) and I hate to give it a bad review because the start of it is gorgeous. You are walking alongside a beautiful creek for a good half a mile. The problem is that the trail just cuts off when you've barely started on it due to a recent fire. We were following the blue blazes and everything was going perfectly until we hit some blockage that would not allow us to continue, especially since we could not find another blue blaze anywhere (the tree may have burned down). So normally I bet this trail is incredible, it's just at the moment we could not complete it because of the damage. Like someone previously posted, you have to drive down a long gravel road past a bunch of houses/properties. You'll think you are in the wrong place but if you keep driving you'll find it.
This trail is NOT easy even for hikers who are not out shape. I would rate this as moderate even though I hiked in about 4 inches of snow up hill to the tower. I hiked up the old road instead of taking the segment of the Appalachian trail. It was uphill all the way there. Worth the climb though, you get a 360 view of the mountains at the top of the tower. Even though it was snowing when I got there it was still breathtaking. Coming back down is a breeze.
Great hike! This took a few hours but we had two small children and two dogs. The ending was beautiful. If you continue further you will find two more waterfalls. After you reach Rainbow falls keep walking .2 miles and you will reach a sign saying you have reached the end of the trail. This area has the last of the three waterfalls. Although the view is a bit obscured by foliage, we climbed down a bit closer to the river to get a better view. This may have been on of my favorite hikes In NC for waterfalls.