Rainbow Falls

May 2002

State: North Carolina

Location: Western part of North Carolina, Jackson County.

Height: 150

Crest: ?

River: Horsepasture River

Waypoint: 35.09056N 82.96611W

Summary: This is an impressive fall, and the hike is adventurous enough to make you feel like you are getting away from it all, but not too challenging. Definitely worth a visit. The Horsepasture River is a good spot around which to build a waterfall tour.

Rainbow Falls is one of the many falls on the Horsepasture River, and is the most impressive of the ones I have seen. The Horsepasture river can be accessed from Gorges State Park. The park is located on NC-281 between US-64 and the South Carolina border.

The Horsepasture river is actually outside of the park. You can park at the park's parking area, and then walk back to NC-281, take a left, and you will find a trailhead a short distance down the road on the left (apparently the State Park does not mind if you leave your car in their parking lot, just do not leave it overnight). Follow the trail until you reach the river. You will pass this sign along the way. The trail is rough, rocky and steep at points. If you head right (upstream), you will reach Drift Falls. If you head left (downstream), you will reach Turtleback Falls and then Rainbow falls. It is probably a 30 minute walk from the parking area to Rainbow falls.

A mile downstream of Rainbow falls is Stairway Falls.

Rainbow falls is quite impressive. You can get right to the top of it, but be careful! People have died here. Two people fell to their deaths in 2003. You can also get down to the base of the falls. There is a well defined trail, but the descent is a little tricky at times.

Nearby Falls

Drift Falls, Turtleback Falls and Stairway Falls are all on a 1.5 mile stretch of the Horsepasture river. The whole river is quite fascinating. Even farther down stream are more waterfalls, including Windy Falls, which apparently is quite a challenge to reach.

Whitewater Falls is nearby on NC 281, just north of the South Carolina border.

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May 2002

May 2002

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