Rainbow Falls Trail

MODERATE 172 reviews
#1 of 63 trails in

Rainbow Falls Trail is a 3.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Toxaway, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
3.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
869 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly

camping

hiking

mountain biking

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

no dogs

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. After about 1/2 mile you can hear the rushing water of Turtleback Falls, before proceeding to this waterfall, go right, down a rhododendron enshrouded side trail. This side trail is a 1/4 mile and dead ends at a US Forest Service blockade. This is private property, but the 40 foot Bust-yo-butt Falls (?) can be viewed from this point. Backtrack and continue on to Turtleback Falls and the thundering Rainbow Falls. Turtleback Falls is a great place for a summer swim, 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. Just downstream is Stair Step Falls. Backtrack back to the parking lot.

hiking
20 hours ago

hiking
1 day ago

Distance is reported wrong. It's 1.5 to Rainbow Falls and another .2 to Turlteback Falls. Total round trip is 3.4 not 4.1 like this is saying.

2 days ago

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8 days ago

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16 days ago

Both the Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls are beautiful and worth the hike. The fishing was great. My husband was able to catch multiple smallmouth bass, a Roanoke bass, many sun fish, carp and brim. It was a fun variety. The park ranger was not aware the Roanoke Bass had made its way downstate this far. Watch out for dog poop at the beginning of the trail. We went multiple days and it seemed to be an ongoing issue. We are dog owners so it was annoying dealing with poop on your shoes, knowing it's not hard to clean up after your dog. Other than that, the trail is excellent.

hiking
17 days ago

hiking
19 days ago

The Gorges visitor center is well worth a visit before doing any of the hikes in the park. Very informative and well thought out facilities. The falls and cascades are beautiful and worth the hike. If you want to take a swim, you can do that too. The more adventurous folks slide down the falls. Be careful and enjoy!!

hiking
21 days ago

Fairly family friendly and very pet friendly moderate hike in Gorges State Park. We hiked 4.5 miles today and the trail was very busy for an early Sunday morning. If you don't mind small crowds and their trash, you can view three beautiful waterfalls. It's sad that people throw their plastic bottles on the ground, we carried some out. About 1.5 miles in, the first stop, is Rainbow Falls. Past that is Turtleback Falls where the daring can slide over. (Just my opinion but not appropriate for young children). Finally, Drift Falls is on private property, but you can view it downstream. Hiking in isn't too bad because it's mostly down hill. You'll work a little to get back to the car.

21 days ago

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27 days ago

We took this hike today. The water fall was beautiful. Nice places to stop and rest and put your feet in the water. I wish that I would have taken my walking stick!

hiking
28 days ago

29 days ago

The road to the trail is closed.

29 days ago

beautiful falls, and you can get so close. beyond the Rainbow Falls, there is a sliding waterfall that is super fun.