Rainbow Falls

based on 3 tracks & routes #12 hike out of 21 in
1.9 mi
1 hrs 1 min
466 ft
Elev Gain


This is a moderate one way trail to Rainbow Falls in Pisgah National Forest. The hike begins at the trailhead for Rainbow Falls and descends steeply to Horsepasture River. The trail then follows the river to the waterfall.

This trail goes by a spur trail leading to Stairway Falls. T

here are also two smaller falls on a trail above Rainbow Falls- Turtleback Falls and Drift Falls, although the latter is on the edge of private property and is not easy to access. Extreme caution should be used in this area as people have been seriously hurt and killed viewing the falls.

On-leash dogs are allowed with caution.

Getting Started

Approximately 10 miles east of Cashiers, NC, turn right (south) on US-64 and NC-281 at Sapphire. Turn left into the access to the Gorges State Park Visitor Center. The parking area is part of the Gorges State Park and is clearly designated. The trail leaves the visitor center headed upstream.

Taking Children

This is not a good hike for children who cannot be supervised at all times. The rocks around the falls are slippery and dangerous.

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Public Tracks