Rainbow Falls Gorges State Park

Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail

Rainbow Falls Hiking Trail (Gorges State Park): The stunning and unique Rainbow Falls gets its name due to the beautiful rainbow that forms on sunny days as a result of the spray from the 60-foot waterfall. Rainbow Falls is accessed through Gorges State Park and is just a short drive from Brevard and Cashiers along the Horsepasture River. It is on Pisgah National Forest land just outside Gorges State Park. In 2011 a new 3-mile round trip hiking trail to Rainbow Falls was added through Gorges State Park. To hike to Rainbow Falls from the Gorges State Park parking lot, follow the trail for 5 minutes, bearing right at the intersection. 20 minutes further, the trail enters the Nantahala National Forest, with a side trail to the left that heads to Stairway Falls. Veer to the right to continue to Rainbow Falls after about a 20 minute walk. Adventurous hikers have the added option for further exploration by continuing up the trail along the Horsepasture River to Turtleback Falls – a popular swimming area that is renown for a sliding rock that drops about 10 feet into a deep pool. Prior to the opening of the park, the only path to the falls was through an unofficial trail on National Forest property.

Turtle Back Falls: Turtleback Falls, also called Umbrella Falls, is a waterfall in Western North Carolina, located near Brevard. The falls is located on the Horsepasture River in the Nantahala National Forest land just outside Gorges State Park. The falls has a large, deep pool at the bottom commonly known as the “Chug Hole”. The river flows over a large, sloping slab of rock before curving steeper and finally dropping into the pool. The appearance of the rock, similar to a turtle’s shell, gives the falls its name. To access the falls, take a short hike starting in Gorges State Park before passing through Pisgah National Forest property into the Nantahala National Forest. The 20-minute-long hike takes visitors to Rainbow Falls before heading further upstream to reach Turtle Back Falls. The area is a popular place for swimming and people frequently slide over the falls into the Chug Hole during low water; however, the currents can be dangerous in higher flows and people have drowned at Turtleback, or have been swept downriver and over 125′ Rainbow Falls.

Directions from Asheville:  Merge onto I-240 W/US-70 W. Continue to follow I-240 W. Keep right at the fork to continue on I-26 E, follow signs for Interstate 240 W/Interstate 26 E/Interstate 40. Take exit 40 for Asheville Regional Airport/N Carolina 280 toward Arden. Turn right onto NC-280 W/Airport Rd. Continue to follow NC-280 W. Continue on US-64 W to Hogback. Turn left onto NC-281 S. Turn left onto Grassy Ridge Rd. Turn right. Destination will be on the right.

The Adventure Collective

The Adventure Collective publishes a series of outdoor adventure sports guides to adventures in Asheville, Boone, Brevard, Chattanooga, Charleston and The Great Smoky Mountains.

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