Rainbow Falls Trail

MODERATE 211 reviews
#1 of 67 trails in

Rainbow Falls Trail is a 3.8 mile moderately 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.

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11 days ago

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13 days ago

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14 days ago

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15 days ago

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19 days ago

Moderate to strenuous trail. The Falls made it well worth the trip!! We relaxed on the rocks for well over an hour before heading back out. Crossing the two small streams was fun as well.

19 days ago

Gorgeous trail and stunning falls. I definitely wouldn’t rate this as an easy trail but well worth the effort. I refer to this as a Walmart trail because there were more people on it than in Walmart on Christmas Eve. Disappointed with an abundance of trash and toilet paper along the trail. We visited the two falls above rainbow and they we beautiful as well. I would definitely do this trail again. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and sit on a big ole rock and watch the river go by.

hiking
22 days ago

I visited on probably the busiest day ever at Gorges State Park (solar eclipse day...8/21/17). Ironically, with a dawn start and most everyone camped out near the visitor center or picnic area, I only encountered a few people on this popular trail. Because of the festivities, I actually had to extend my hike on the main road to get to and from the trailhead. Rainbow Falls was roaring with recent rain. It was a beautiful sight as the early morning light was just starting to illuminate the area around the large waterfall. Be sure to continue on a short distance further to see Turtleback Falls as well.

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23 days ago

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27 days ago

27 days ago

Beautiful falls and a great hike with the dogs!! Great little pool for them to get in and cool down!!

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27 days ago

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29 days ago

The parking lot for this hike is fairly large and I had no trouble finding a spot. Everything is paved including the road to the parking lot and the lot itself. The actual trailhead for this hike is the Grassy Ridge Trailhead that leads to the Rainbow Falls Trail (you'll make a right to follow this trail) about .5-.75 miles in. Soon after you veer right onto Rainbow Falls Trail you will see a sign that says you're leaving Gorges State Park. Up until this sign, the hike (to me) seemed almost like a multi-use, everyday person kind of trail as opposed to a more rugged/deep in the woods feel. Not sure I really cared for that. But after leaving the State Park that changed and eventually the trail became moderately challenging upon approaching the Falls and I actually felt I was in the forest. The trail can be muddy and slick in some areas and someone did get seriously injured this day.

The first Falls is Rainbow Falls. Beautiful!! you can feel the mist from the raging waters.There are a few areas you can closer to the Falls but these "spurs" are slick.

Just up from the Rainbow Falls overlook is a fork in trail. Taking the higher trail will take you another half mile or so to Turtleback Falls (the lower trail takes you closer to Rainbow). While Turtleback is smaller, it's a really neat waterfall. So I def recommend seeing both. Again there are areas to boulder hop towards the Falls a bit but slick spots are still around. I turned back after this point back to the Grassy Ridge Trail, though looks like you could go a little farther.

Only 15 min away is the Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company located within a local golf course. GO! Great wood-fired pizza and local craft beer on tap.

hiking
29 days ago

1 month ago

Moderate hike- seemed on short side but I forgot to time. Maybe 3 hours including stopping for lunch? Falls very pretty , but Rainbow Falls most impressive. Lots of folks out on a pretty October Saturday. Didn't know to look for Stairstep Falls. About a mile hike from visitor center is another one, Bearwallow Falls, pretty but partly obscured by brush. You also walk by a nice overlook to see Lakes Keeowee and Jocassee.

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1 month ago

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