Jones Gap and Rainbow Falls Trail

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Caesars Head State Park

Jones Gap and Rainbow Falls Trail is a 11.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Cleveland, South Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 11.9 miles Elevation Gain: 2,778 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly


nature trips


bird watching





wild flowers



A nicely wooded up and down hike along the Saluda River. Be aware that the trails close at 6pm (8pm during daylight savings).

1 day ago

Clocked 11.62 miles on THESE trails today. 5/28/2020. All Trails rocks, but sometimes their trail descriptions differ from the actual location. I hiked in on the blue blazed trail stopping at Jones Gap Falls, until I intersected with the red blaze trail which I took up to Rainbow Falls. It was about 5 miles to that point and took me about 90 minutes, and I only gained about 80 feet in elevation. By the time you get to Rainbow Falls you have gained over 1000 feet- so be prepared. that’s a pretty big gain over that 1.5 miles or so. After I came down from Rainbow Falls Trail (red blazes) I chose to back track slightly on the blue blazed trail until I hit the orange blazed trail, which goes back to the same parking lot. I actually preferred that trail out to the one I hiked in. Both run along the water, and have plenty of crossings and views. There were wildflowers on the orange blazed trail. We, ( my dog and I) saw 1 deer, 1 snake, 1 salamander, and a tree fall in the forest ahead of us. Note I did see some poison ivy on the trail. It was a great hike and took just shy of 4 hours. $3 per adult is the state park fee. Dog did great on all the crossings. Trail was very wet overall and we did have some light rain, visibility was poor so no scenic vistas for us.

3 months ago

I did only the loop. The Thomas Miller trail and looped back with the cold water creek trail. Total of about 6 miles. I would say moderate is right unless you don’t like skipping boulders over rivers. My dog did just fine with it. We loved this trail along the creek with the nice waterfalls! The trail crosses the creek many times. It was also nice during the winter because you could see the mountains through the trees!

5 months ago

This is our favorite state park. Great scenery and trails. Moderate difficulty. Take water.

7 months ago

Our 1st cool hike for fall. A little drizzly. Started from 276; along the creek/river; looped on the orange trail - Cold Spring Branch/Palmetto trail. Total about 6 miles. Super nice....well marked; lots of water to see....creeks, waterfalls, beautiful hardwoods, lots of birds. Our dog loved it too! We have done the other part from Jones Gap park last April. Beautiful.....Rainbow falls is wonderful.

8 months ago

Trail is nice and well maintained. The falls are absolutely stunning and they were definitely sporting a rainbow effect while we were there. It was fantastic. Trail is tough but we did it with some teenagers who went up loud and fast and came down slow and quiet.

8 months ago

Trail was very approachable. The only more difficult part was the trail leading to rainbow falls. I would not rate the overall trail as “hard.” Much of the trail ran along the river which was lovely. Started the loop counterclockwise.

Well maintained trail. Rainbow falls is a must, then hit the loop and do counter clockwise. Strenuous at times.

11 months ago

trail was well maintained and well marked. the maps at most trail junctions make impossible to get lost. There are lots of water sources to pump water. knats and mosquitos during summer months so recommend to bring bug spray.

over grown
Mon May 27 2019

First off. I would like to say that if you plan to do the whole loop to rainbow falls and back, it is not a moderate hike. It is hard. My wife and I completed Table Rock last year which was pretty strenuous but this was in different ways just as challenging. I would absolutely recommend the proper footing(waterproof if possible). The trails were mini streams at certain points and they were not very well maintained in our opinion. It was hard to even see the trail at certain points due to overgrown bushes. If you plan to do the whole loop in the heat of summer or in 90+ degree temps, just make sure to bring a TON of water and take breaks. It took us just about 6 hours walking at a casual pace. The falls are very nice, but not as rewarding as a Table Rock type of view. BUGSPRAY is a must in the summer. be prepared to check for ticks and spiders at spots as well due to the overgrown trails. I probably wouldn't return to this particular hike but the drive up to the trailhead was super cool and winds all the way up 3000'

Fri Apr 26 2019

Lovely falls that I had all to myself!

Mon Feb 04 2019

So beautiful! I absolutely looove this trail and all of its beauty and wonder. Such an interesting trail that follows the Saluda river.

Sun Nov 18 2018

Great trail. Rocky in places but good family fun. Waterfalls are beautiful.

Sat Nov 17 2018

Great place. Beautiful! Take the family

Mon Oct 22 2018

This is a fabulous trail. Very rocky in places, so def wear hiking shoes. A good many options for short or long out and back hikes and two waterfalls. Excellent. We will def do this one again.

Sun Sep 09 2018

Great hike ! Beautiful waterfall! Jones Gap is as good as it gets!

Sat Aug 18 2018

Great trails. Fantastic scenery!

Tue May 22 2018

4 or 5 visits and I still discover something new. some storm damage, trees etc.. same for side trails. ( sure feels longer than it is. )

Tue Jan 02 2018

Thu Dec 07 2017

Jones Gap Falls is not a robust waterfall but it's very pretty and the hike along the Middle Saluda is worth it on its own. The trail is pretty rocky and can be quite wet(as in, streams across the trail) depending on the recent rainfall. You should go past Jones Gap Falls so you can see the nice cascades on the river and eventually Toll Road Falls about a mile on.

Sun Oct 29 2017

One of my favorites. Longer than it is hard, but beautiful at all parts. Very busy on weekends.

Sun Sep 03 2017

A party of 11, plus two dogs. Kids 8-14. The first part (Jones Gap Trail from Raven Falls parking lot) was a breeze because it was downhill the whole way. 1.3 miles in we stopped at a waterfall and ate. 3.5-4 to the Coldspring/Kimball junction. Bill Kimball trail was aggressive especially carrying my small dog up the side of a mountain. It was an adventure tho and I would do it again!

Thu Aug 31 2017

Jones Gap is an easy to moderate trail with rushing streams, beautiful waterfalls and plenty of backcountry campsites. Falls Trail will put you to work, but Rainbow Falls is worth the climb. If you're hiking during or after heavy rain, you may encounter high stream crossings on the way back to the trailhead.

Mon Jul 17 2017

Took this trail to the water fall then came back and connected to rainbow falls trail. Easy hike but rocky. Falls were nice. Get there early as suggested.

Tue May 09 2017

Great hike! Depending on rain you might get your feet wet but beautiful start to finish and not too crowded. We did Cold Spring to Jones Gap, then the little .7 back to parking. Going this way crazy uphill on that .7.

Thu Apr 13 2017

Awesome day hiking with my uncle. The trail is well maintained-parking can be an issue so get there early.

Tue Apr 11 2017

Beautiful trail! We spent the weekend camping off of this trail and hiking the many trails in the area. We will definitely be back!!!

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