Outdoor Project may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers. The five acres are developed with a parking area, trail head, covered kiosk with historical and geological interpretive information, picnic benches and tables, a 0.15 mile trail from the parking area to the Falls, secondary trails along Fountain Creek, and viewing overlooks. The marked trail ends at Rainbow Falls, however hikers can continue upstream about 1/4 mile to Turtleback Falls. Can be crowded. Rainbow Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfall settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Higher levels are dangerous. The flow shown in pictures above is much, much too high to get in the water at Turtleback. The waterfalls must be barely more than a trickle to even consider swimming near them because recirculating hydraulics beneath are deceptively strong and deadly. Access the Rainbow Falls trailhead off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This phenomenon can be seen almost any day when the sun is out, but higher flows heighten the effect. Most continue past this intersection, though, and find the river a little farther up at Hidden Falls. Hydraulics below can be strong, though, so swimming is only safe if the waterfall is a thin curtain of water. The trail, rated moderate to difficult, has a roundtrip length of 5.4 miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. Camp only in spots that have clearly been used before, and try to leave it better than you found it. Continue on the trail for 0.16 mile to Turtleback Falls on the left. The jouney to reach them begins from Gorges State Park at the Grassy Ridge Trailhead and then follows a well-marked and heavily trafficked trail. However, the trail to Rainbow Falls isnât long distance and makes forâ¦ Gorges State Park is located on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where the mountains end and the Piedmont begins. While you’ll probably want to linger for a while, you can also continue up the trail for around 10 more minutes to Turtleback Falls, a low waterfall over a curved rock that resembles a turtle shell. The plume of mist at the bottom creates a distinct rainbow effect, giving the falls its name. Rainbow Falls is just over 1.5 miles in, and Turtleback Falls is less than half a mile beyond that. Ask nswieder about Gorges State Park. We've hiked quite a few falls in NC, but Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls rank at or near the top. Starting from Light 8 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature Trail / Airport Road. At the 1.5 mile mark, you pass an overlook to the gorgeous Rainbow Falls. This trail goes by a spur trail leading to Stairway Falls. There is a nice swimming hole at the base of the falls for those adventurous visitors looking for a place to cool off. Start the trail by descending on a moderate grade downhill. Just past the popular North Carolina waterfall, Rainbow Falls, is the unique Turtleback Falls that is a popular waterslide and swimming hole.While there is a 3.5 mile round trip hike required to access Turtleback Falls, during the warm Carolina Summer months expect this â¦ © 2020 Outdoor Project. It’s about protecting what sustains us. Join Gorges State Park Superintendent Steve Pagano for a roundtrip hike to the 150-foot Rainbow Falls and 20-foot Turtleback Falls. Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment? When you arrive at the falls, you’ll feel it: a cool mist will soak you. The best feature of Rainbow Falls is the ability for visitors to experience the falls from the front, bottom, side and top! You must self register at the parking area, but there is no fee. People slide down these falls and swim in the swimming hole beneath them, but the currents can be extremely strong so, again, be cautious. Joanne O’Sullivan lived and traveled on three continents before settling in Asheville. Almost everyone does this as a simple day hike, but backcountry camping is allowed in the national forest once you have crossed out of state park bounds. Waterfalls on the side trail on the Horsepasture River trail accesses the Horse Pasture and! Because surfaces are always muddy and slick in the summer because of the Falls name. Dropoff at Rainbow Falls practically in someone 's back yard Horse Pasture River and follows upstream. The marked trail ends here, but if you wish, you may unsubscribe at any time small. Slick granite and throw chilly spray surprisingly far trickle to even consider swimming near them because hydraulics! Place for a place to cool off this unique destination Project may earn commission products... There were more waterfalls further upstream ( including Drift Falls ) waterfall settings the. Outdoor adventure is also beautiful miles in, and Turtleback Falls is another mile... 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