Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls Trail

MODERATE 707 reviews
#1 of 10 trails in

Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls Trail is a 4.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Toxaway, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 4.1 miles Elevation Gain: 895 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

This short hike along the Horsepasture River features outstanding views of 4 large waterfalls and good camping. Start the trail by descending on a moderate grade downhill. Just a few hundred yards down stream is the impressive Rainbow Falls. When viewing the falls from the top, extreme caution should be used, as every year or so, someone is seriously hurt or killed in this area. Continue down the river trail. The trail is not marked, but as long as you keep the river on your right, you're ok. At the 1.25 mile mark is a very nice clearing for tenting. After about 1/2 mile you can hear the rushing water of Turtleback Falls. This is a great place for a summer swim. Just downstream is Stair Step Falls. Backtrack back to the parking lot.

hiking
12 days ago

Foggy before noon when I went but still breathtaking

hiking
13 days ago

The waterfall was absolutely breathtaking. So worth it!

hiking
rocky
21 days ago

amazing place to take your family for a advance in the wild. Water gets chilly but after sitting in it for a minute you'll be fine

hiking
28 days ago

Great hike! Our kids were a little tuckered our at the end but the trail has tons of areas to explore and beautiful waterfalls. I highly recommend continuing on the turtleback falls. If you have smaller kids, continue past the falls up further and there are a couple nice flat rocks for some shallow swimming.

hiking
29 days ago

Pretty falls. We got there early on Saturday and enjoyed the falls without a crowd. We saw plenty of people on our way back out so we were glad we went when we did. Pretty and shady hike to the falls and some stairs.

hiking
1 month ago

The trail itself is pretty easy. The waterfalls were good.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike and both falls are amazing. You can cliff jump off rainbow falls to the left and turtle back falls is a slide even kids can do. Stay with children tho because we saw multiple cottonmouths, mainly at rainbow falls, one chased our 9 year old down and I had to jump in between them. Still worth it and we will be back!!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike! Did a lot of exploring while I was at Rainbow Falls and turtle back falls.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

This is a mostly shady trail and is very well maintained. The waterfalls are absolutely gorgeous and well worth the two mile hike in. There were A LOT of yellow jackets along the trail, though, so be careful, especially if you are allergic.

hiking
1 month ago

beautiful shaded gradual mostly gravel based hike to magnificent Rainbow Falls. Took us about 25 minutes. The waterfall is easily 200+ feet tall and you can go down to the bottom and swim. Keep going and stay right on trail for 10 minutes or so and you'll arrive at Turtleback Falls. Was kind of crowded on weekend but there's an awesome short rock slide that drops into a swimming hole. Plenty of places/rocks to swim on and chill around in this area. Will definitely be going back soon

hiking
1 month ago

This was a pleasant, well maintained trail and the falls were amazing. Rainbow Falls is one of the prettiest I've ever seen.

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This is a great hike. If I lived closer, it would be my go to! I was concerned with the warnings of yellow jackets, but I didn’t see a single one!

Some sections washed out

Awesome hike! However, There were yellow jacket nests on the trail down to the observation deck at Rainbow Falls. My son walked through it and got three stings and scared the life out of me. Bee very careful (see what I did there?)

hiking
bugs
1 month ago

A few Yellow Jacket nests on the trail so be aware

Beautiful Falls and classic play area. Heavily trafficked.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice trail, well marked and numerous waterfalls along the way

hiking
1 month ago

The waterfalls, especially Rainbow, are beautiful. I really enjoyed the few areas you can checkout the river. If you have small kids with you bring their lifejacket so they can enjoy the water. The trail itself was nothing special, very wide part gravel and then compact dirt, there are some stairs to climb.

Good butt slide

This is an amazing hike. It can be strenuous but it is so worth the hike! The waterfalls and sliding rock were wonderful. Go in spring and see tons of wildflowers.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful destination, but dangerous up on top.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful falls. The hike is moderate. Swing under the falls is an experience everyone should try.

hiking
private property
washed out
2 months ago

Overall a great day! Gorgeous views, we swam in the water under the falls. Lots of roots and rocks, a little crowded with families and dogs. Late afternoon was cool and there were fewer people.

hiking
bugs
rocky
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail a bit confusing and hard to follow the example trail we ended up taking quite a detour taking a much longer yet easier trail because we had some younger kids with us their are many ways to do this hike with beautiful waterfall

Rainbow falls was absolutely breathtaking! Would definitely recommend this hike. Took our dog with us and it was very doable. A lot of the hike is along the riverside and there are lots of walkways down to the water to check that out. The falls were gorgeous, accompanied by lots of wildflowers, butterflies, and rainbows (hence the name)! You can climb down to the base of the falls too while feeling the mist from the falls. Turtleback Falls was a short distance further and those falls were beautiful too. Definitely recommend this one!

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