My Transylvania is a new regular feature, highlighting places and experiences that make the Land of Waterfalls so special. This month’s spotlight is on Rainbow Falls, located in Nantahala National Forest, but accessed through Gorges State Park.
What is it? A moderate-to-challenging hike to one of Transylvania County’s most beautiful waterfalls.
How long does it take? Give yourself 30-45 minutes each way. The trail is well-maintained, but it is steep in places.
What makes it special? Rainbow Falls is a beautiful 150-ft ribbon of whitewater that many enthusiasts consider to be the most striking in these parts. When the river is running heavy, sunlight catches the mist coming off the falls and creates the phenomenon for which the cascade is named. From the parking area at Grassy Ridge in Gorges State Park, the well-groomed trail descends to the stunning Horsepasture River. When you reach the river, turn right. The trail becomes steeper, but the effort is worth it. The trail skirts around Rainbow Falls, offering up a great view. If you’ve got energy to burn, continue up river to Turtle Back Falls and Drift Falls to earn a waterfall trifecta!
Directions to trailhead: from downtown Brevard, take US-64 west toward Sapphire. Go 18.2 miles. Turn left on NC-281. The park entrance is .7 miles on left. From the entrance, proceed to the Grassy Ridge Parking lot.