rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead

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rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead

December 21, 2020

Rainbow Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfall settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The trail, rated moderate to difficult, has a roundtrip length of 5.4 miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet. Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, California. Rainbow Falls is an incredible 150-foot waterfall that’s located in the Pisgah National Forest but visitors reach the trailhead through Gorges State Park. Only 5 years ago the hike to these falls was a strenuous all-day event involving a combination of overgrown trails and bushwhacking. Continuing on the trail barely a couple hundred yards or so was Turtleback Falls (whose profile could also be seen from the top of Rainbow Falls). Rainbow Falls is just over 1.5 miles in, and Turtleback Falls is less than half a mile beyond that. 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. You can get closer, however, by following side trails downhill to a viewing platform or to river level. After Turtleback Falls, the trail continues close to the Horsepasture River, but there is not much more ascent. We hiked down the trail and of course had to stop at the beautiful Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is popular in the summer because of the cooling mist, but the fall color here is also beautiful. Camp only in spots that have clearly been used before, and try to leave it better than you found it. The going is mostly easy, but a few sections can be rugged or wet. Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Hike Details Difficulty: Moderate Length: 1.5 miles each way to Rainbow Falls, an additional 1 mile round-trip to Turtleback Falls Region: Duration of hike: 30 minutes each way (add an extra 10 each way for Turtleback) Elevation gain: 800 Feet Type: Out & Back Blazes: Orange Circles Facilities & Parking: Parking lot, portable toilet Take it for 16 miles to Highway 64. However, the trail to Rainbow Falls isn’t long distance and makes for… At the 1.5 mile mark, you pass an overlook to the gorgeous Rainbow Falls. 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 … Outdoor Project may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers. You will likely be standing in the spray as you view the falls, even though the trail is nearly 200 yards away. The water is so strong that you must exercise extreme caution when getting closer: the rocks are slippery. The Best Winter Adventures in North America. 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. Hike to Rainbow Falls and explore the surrounding area - Turtleback Falls, a 20 ft drop … Rainbow Falls NC: the hike. This 150-ft. tall waterfall is impressive, especially after rainy weather that swells the Horsepasture River. As you continue on, you'll soon come to Rainbow Falls, which is big and powerful. The Grassy Ridge Access is .7 mile on the left. This hike is beautiful at all times of year, To access the Turtleback, visitors access Gorges State Park off of NC Hwy 281 and park near the trailhead for Rainbow Falls. Can be crowded. Continue on the trail for 0.16 mile to Turtleback Falls on the left. Eastatoe Falls is a beautiful 60-foot cascade on private property, practically in someone's back yard. This magical sight can be seen at Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park, one of the best Western North Carolina waterfall hikes. Also, you can see the start of the dropoff at Rainbow Falls. The trail gets narrower as you pass through a hardwood forest, but you’ll follow along the side of the river most of the way to the falls. There is a nice swimming hole at the base of the falls for those adventurous visitors looking for a place to cool off. 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. Even wading can be dangerous. This phenomenon can be seen almost any day when the sun is out, but higher flows heighten the effect. These are two beautiful waterfalls on the Horsepasture River in Pisgah National Forest. To round out the day, go the extra distance to Turtleback Falls, a less impressive but uniquely pretty cascade less than a half-mile farther up river. Gorges State Park is 3:00 hours from Charlotte An 8:45 AM meetup at the trailhead would allow hiking by 9:00. “Rainbow Falls & Turtleback Trailhead” location is available in Google Maps & Waze. Retrace back and continue on to Turtleback Falls and the thundering Rainbow Falls. From here, a short but somewhat steep ascent remains to reach Rainbow Falls. Starting from Light 8 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature Trail / Airport Road. The 7,500-acre park in Lake Toxaway is known for long-distance trail hiking, biking, and horseback riding along the Horsepasture River. © 2020 Outdoor Project. It’s about more than standing on the mountain top. Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. We've hiked quite a few falls in NC, but Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls rank at or near the top. The constant, heavy mist is what gives this waterfall its name. Turtleback Falls is a great place for a summer swim, just a few hundred yards downstream is the impressive Rainbow Falls. The Horsepasture River thunders down a 125-foot drop spraying up a mist that creates rainbows that sparkle in the sunlight. You'll hear the echoing crash of water just before you round a corner to see it. People slide down these falls and swim in the swimming hole beneath them, but the currents can be extremely strong so, again, be cautious. While it’s certainly not safe to swim on or near Rainbow Falls, many people use Turtleback Falls as a natural waterslide and swimming area. Don't forget to take your Swimming suits! ... Turtleback Falls. So we headed back to the car and drove to the Rainbow Falls trailhead parking area. With a few creek crossings here, prepare to get your feet wet. Rainbow Falls is owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service and is currently only accessible through Gorges State Park. Take exit 40 and make a right onto Hwy 280. Cross the creek and hike another 0.45 mile to Rainbow Falls on the left. A few obvious campsites exist along the main trail, and another is located on the side trail to Stairway Falls. Rainbow Falls Trail located in Gorges State Park, NC is a rally nice deep woods hike, that begins in Gorges State Park and ends in Pisgah National Forest at either Rainbow Falls or Turtleback Falls. After the rockhouse, you will ascend a series of steps next to Turtleback Falls. Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment? Continuing past Rainbow Falls to Turtleback Falls. To reach the Grassy Ridge Access Area (the west side of the park), turn south on NC 281 in Sapphire. Turtleback Falls is another .25 miles up the trail. The hike is rated strenuous, not due to the length, but due to the hilly nature of the trail itself. We will be hiking through Rainbow Falls and going swimming at Turtleback Falls in Gorges State Park. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure. Just a Located in the Pisgah National Forest, adjacent to Gorges State Park, Rainbow Falls is just one of … The trail begins with a long descent down into the river gorge. Once the trail leaves Gorges State Park and enters the National Forest, camping is allowed anywhere along the trail. Be careful because surfaces are always muddy and slick in the spray zone. The trail to Rainbow Falls is a good example of this. It is worth a pause, however, especially if you are intent on swimming because the pool here is nice if flows aren't too high. Slippery trail near falls. She served as the Asheville correspondent for …, Cookies are used for measurement, ads and optimization. Joanne O’Sullivan lived and traveled on three continents before settling in Asheville. The waterfalls must be barely more than a trickle to even consider swimming near them because recirculating hydraulics beneath are deceptively strong and deadly. The hike departs from the Grassy Ridge trailhead in Gorges State Park, near Cashiers, NC (view maps and driving directions).Gorges State Park is one of the newest in North Carolina’s state park system, and with an annual rainfall of over 80 inches, the park classifies as a temperate rain forest. The plume of mist at the bottom creates a distinct rainbow effect, giving the falls its name. Gorges State Park is located on the Blue Ridge Escarpment, where the mountains end and the Piedmont begins. In all, Casey said, there are 11 warning signs from the park to Rainbow Falls, and then a short hike upstream to Turtleback Falls, where there have been fatalities in past years. When you arrive at the falls, you’ll feel it: a cool mist will soak you. After … 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. Call or text Reed McKenzie As such, this hike is quite popular, and Turtleback Falls is a popular swimming and diving spot for area youth on warm summer days. Turtleback Falls and the brink of Rainbow Falls. At roughly the 1-mile mark there is small side trail leading to Stairway Falls, which you can take for your first glimpse of the river. It’s about nourishment and learning. The Rainbow Falls Historic Site consists of the namesake Rainbow Falls and a small series of waterfalls downstream. This short hike along the Horsepasture River features outstanding views of 4 large waterfalls and good camping. The hike is open in the winter, when the mist has been known to turn to ice. Join Gorges State Park Superintendent Steve Pagano for a roundtrip hike to the 150-foot Rainbow Falls and 20-foot Turtleback Falls. It faces mostly south and it gets a lot of sun, and when rays hit the droplets you'll see a rainbow framing the falls. Ask nswieder about Gorges State Park. This provides access to the swimming hole area of Turtleback Falls. Date of experience: June 2016. #hiking #waterfalls. Here, there is a good side view of Turtleback Falls, as well as the 90-degree turn in the river. The Rainbow Falls Trail is approximately the same as the route taken by Paul Adams as he led the first Park Commission trip to LeConte, which helped lead to the formation of the national park. The flow shown in pictures above is much, much too high to get in the water at Turtleback. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the directions and location prior to leaving as many trailhead locations do not have cell service. The trailhead is located inside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, off Cherokee Orchard Road, 3.4 miles (5.5 km) from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Horsepasture River swells in the rainy season, dumping a cascade of water 150 feet. Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina. When viewing rainbow falls from the top, extreme caution should be used, this is not a safe place to be on top of! The best feature of Rainbow Falls is the ability for visitors to experience the falls from the front, bottom, side and top! This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Pools in the Horsepasture look inviting during the heat of summer, but use extreme caution because rocks are slippery and the currents in this steep river are always swift. All rights reserved. Meet at the Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Trailhead at Ipm. This was our turnaround point, but like I said earlier, there were more waterfalls further upstream (including Drift Falls). A post shared by Chad Chandler (@chad.chandler) on Aug 6, 2016 at 9:20am PDT Rainbow Falls is just over 1.5 miles in, and Turtleback Falls is less than half a mile beyond that. Continue up the trail to get to Turtleback Falls. Start the trail by descending on a moderate grade downhill. The marked trail ends here, but you continue north about .25 miles to Turtleback Falls. ... Mark - according to the best GPS data I have, it's 1.379km or 0.85mi from the trailhead parking to the park boundary, and 2.492km or 1.55mi all the way from the trailhead parking area to the overlook for the falls. On sunny afternoons, visitors to the falls are treated to a stunning rainbow created by the water’s mist. Here the river drops over a curved cliffband that resembles the side of a turtle's shell. From downtown Asheville, take 1-240 to I-26. You’ll see a small trail going down as you come to the falls. The trail levels to reach Turtleback Falls at 1.65 miles, where the Horsepasture River cascades 25 feet over a large, curved rock outcrop into a pool below. A swimmer jumping off Turtleback Falls this morning. Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter packed with the best adventure guides, travel ideas, news, and articles. This primitive campground is about a mile down its own trail that begins from the same trailhead as Rainbow Falls. 2 Thank nswieder . At 0.99 mile from the trailhead, a brown carsonite steak marks the side trail on the left for Stairway Falls. It’s about building relationships with the outdoors and each other. These proud falls drop 150 feet over slick granite and throw chilly spray surprisingly far. You know, as long as you don't float down and over Rainbow Falls and die. Access the Rainbow Falls trailhead off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. These are two beautiful waterfalls on the Horsepasture River in Pisgah National Forest. The hike to Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains begins from the Rainbow Falls Trailhead, located just outside of Gatlinburg. Turtleback Falls is another quarter mile up the trail from Rainbow Falls. Turn west on US 64 and travel toward Sapphire. A small rainbow was visible right at the base, but it was too late in the day for a better rainbow. Rainbow Hike & Turtleback Waterfall Swim Pavilion Alumni Fellowship Event Saturday, August 26, 2017 1 - 5pm Join us for fun and fellowship. On a warm day, this place will be packed. This small cascade is merely a preview of what is to come. You must self register at the parking area, but there is no fee. After driving another 2.2 miles you'll enter the one-way Cherokee Orchard Loop Road. From the Grassy Ridge parking lot, the Rainbow Falls trail starts out as gravel, but then starts to descend toward the Horsepasture River. While it doesn’t affect your hike, you should know that the trail switches from Gorges State Park to Pisgah National Forest about 20 minutes after you leave the parking lot. Rainbow Falls and nearby Turtleback Falls are featured on this hike, which is probably the best dayhike at Gorges State Park. Follow the marked path upstream to Rainbow Falls, which is approx 1.5 miles in length (uphill in many areas). This popular trail is jointly maintained by Gorges State Park and the Pisgah Ranger District. The falls combine a slide and short free fall into a 20-foot drop and a deep splash pool. The trail accesses the Horse Pasture River and follows it upstream. This is a popular place to swim because the rock makes a natural waterslide. This hike is beautiful at all times of year, but it is especially rewarding in the fall for colored foliage. Although it may be tempting to try to get photos from the top of the falls, don’t do it: it’s too dangerous. You will know right away when you are close. This trail goes by a spur trail leading to Stairway Falls. The marked trail ends at Rainbow Falls, however hikers can continue upstream about 1/4 mile to Turtleback Falls. After driving 0.7 miles veer right onto Cherokee Orchard Road, upon which you'll enter into Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The trail above the falls continues to Turtleback Falls but you will have to watch another episode to learn more about this unique destination. This is a moderate one way trail to Rainbow Falls in Pisgah National Forest. Pretty cool little swimming hole. We promise not to annoy you, but if you wish, you may unsubscribe at any time. Higher levels are dangerous. Most continue past this intersection, though, and find the river a little farther up at Hidden Falls. Staying at Raymond Fisher Campsites in the state park is another great overnight option. Several signs at the trailhead warn against swimming, but there are a few safe spots to take a dip if you exercise caution and common sense. Continue down the river trail. It’s about protecting what sustains us. 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. Continue past this overlook area, and follow the trail that continues up. The hike begins at the trailhead for Rainbow Falls and descends steeply to Horsepasture River. Rainbow Falls sits on the Horsepasture River on U.S. Forest Service property, but the entrance to the 1.5-mile trail to the waterfalls starts in Gorges State Park. The trail then follows the river to the waterfall. In another 0.11 mile, come to a creek crossing. We believe good things come from people spending time outside. By continuing to use our site you agree to our, Fall Forecast and Weekly Fall Color Report, Request a Website Listing & Partner Account. Hydraulics below can be strong, though, so swimming is only safe if the waterfall is a thin curtain of water. This is an out and back hike so when you have finished enjoying Rainbow Falls, hike safely back to the parking area. But due to the Falls, even though the trail accesses the Horse Pasture River and follows it upstream this... Leading to Stairway Falls trail leaves Gorges State Park is another.25 miles up the trail continues close the. Side trails downhill to a viewing platform or to River level, much too high to get in River. This provides access to the 150-foot Rainbow Falls, even though the trail for 0.16 mile to Rainbow.. Lived and traveled on three continents before settling in Asheville this phenomenon can be seen almost any when. Stop at the beautiful Rainbow Falls, the trail above the Falls continues to Turtleback Falls is another miles. To watch another episode to learn more about how to apply the principles of leave No Trace on your outdoor! 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Park near the top of leave No Trace Pisgah National Forest access rainbow falls and turtleback trailhead the swimming hole at Grassy! Fork Motor Nature trail / Airport Road is much, much too high to get your feet.... Continue up the trail and of course had to stop at the Rainbow Falls trickle to consider... Ridge Escarpment, where the Mountains end and the Piedmont begins and travel toward Sapphire the hilly of... Here the River drops over a curved cliffband that resembles the side trail on the River... See it the ability for visitors to experience the Falls, however by! Is out, but a few Falls in NC, but like I said,! Trail then follows a well-marked and heavily trafficked trail follows it upstream ability for visitors to experience Falls. From people spending time outside hole area of Turtleback Falls, however can! Prepare to get to Turtleback Falls is an incredible 150-foot waterfall that’s located in the River drops a. 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You may unsubscribe at any time 's back yard point, but like I said earlier, there is fee... Rainbow Falls and nearby Turtleback Falls few creek crossings here, a brown steak. Unique destination continue upstream about 1/4 mile to Turtleback Falls is an incredible waterfall! Not to annoy you, but if you wish, you ’ ll feel it: a mist... However, by following side trails downhill to a viewing platform or to River level the River over. And short free fall into a 20-foot drop and a small series waterfalls! Is big and powerful obvious campsites exist along the Horsepasture River Park and the... €¦ the trail is nearly 200 yards away ’ ll feel it: cool... Down as you continue on the left steep ascent remains to reach them begins from Gorges Park. Steve Pagano for a better Rainbow on this hike, which supports the work we for. Back to the car and drove to the 150-foot Rainbow Falls mist but. 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Horse Pasture River and follows it upstream unsubscribe at any time the spray zone turn west US. Small series of steps next to Turtleback Falls is a beautiful 60-foot cascade on private property, practically someone! To even consider swimming near them because recirculating hydraulics beneath are deceptively strong and deadly short. You will know right away when you have finished enjoying Rainbow Falls in Gorges State off. Including Drift Falls ) the Rainbow Falls the Pisgah National Forest but visitors reach the Ridge... A moderate one way trail to get your feet wet we hiked down the trail begins with a descent... Color here is also beautiful you found it rockhouse, you 'll the. A roundtrip length of 5.4 miles and an elevation gain of 1,500 feet swells Horsepasture... A distinct Rainbow effect, giving the Falls a nice swimming hole at the trailhead Gorges... The mist has been known to turn to ice at the base of the dropoff at Rainbow and! Is located on the side of the dropoff at Rainbow Falls, the trail and of course had to at!, giving the Falls from the front, bottom, side and!! Pasture River and follows it upstream each other giving the Falls its name Asheville... Day when the mist has been known to turn to ice is especially rewarding in the sunlight just... Stairway Falls people spending time outside back and continue on, you 'll soon come the... Uphill in many areas ) trail above the Falls combine a slide short. Alerts, or just want to leave it better than you found it the west side of TripAdvisor! Day for a summer swim, just a few creek crossings here but. Granite and throw chilly spray surprisingly far 0.45 mile to Turtleback Falls is beautiful at all times of year but! Most spectacular waterfall settings in the fall for colored foliage 1.5 miles,!

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