Making the Rainbow Connection: 
 Explore Rainbow Falls

The Adventurist is excited to introduce a new excursions series that’s designed to give you all the information you need to explore specific adventures in Brevard and Transylvania County. Tuck in and enjoy our first installment of “Adventurist Excursions” and stay tuned for more information on future adventures in the area. 

Imagine, it’s a beautiful day in Brevard and Transylvania County. And with Spring at the ready, you have longer hours to explore, plenty of excitement, and a hankering to check out some truly unforgettable sights. 

Rainbow falls, one of the most stunning waterfalls in the region, is waiting for you to explore. To get started take US 64 west out of downtown Brevard for a scenic, winding drive up the mountains toward historic Toxaway and Gorges State Park, and an area locally referred to as “Upper Transylvania.” The park spreads out over 7,709 verdant acres of temperate rainforest along the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It features some dramatic topography, ranging from sweeping, cliffside panoramic views, to the stunning scenery far below at Lake Jocassee, to some of the area’s most iconic waterfalls.  

The Gorges Visitor Center, a beautifully designed facility with a sweeping terrace, is always a good place to start. It’s a lovely place to learn about local wildlife and topography from exhibits, and then put your feet up to study your trail maps. Once you’ve taken all the Visitor Center has to offer it’s just a short drive down Grassy Ridge Rd. to the parking area for the trailhead. Click here for driving directions to the trailhead.

From the trailhead just off Grassy Ridge Rd. beside the parking area, the Rainbow Falls Trail is a 3.9 mile well-trafficked, out-and-back hike of moderate difficulty, with some reasonably steep climbs and descents. The trail blazes are small metal circles colored blue and orange. You’ll begin by winding down through verdant, mountain laurel into a lush creek valley, home to delicate ferns and wildflowers in the warm seasons. Around one mile in, you’ll hear the sound of the Horsepasture River, marking the edge of the Nantahala National Forest and the start of waterfall territory. You’ll follow the river upstream until you reach Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls, with its stunning 150-foot plunge over giant mossy rocks into a misty pool, is a superstar-level waterfall, but it’s best observed from the trail, away from the slippery rocks and dangerous currents. As always, review your waterfall safety guidelines and be extremely careful. 
Turtleback Falls
The trail continues a short distance upstream to Turtleback Falls, another beautiful and unique waterfall, before circling back.

While Turtleback and Rainbow Falls are best observed at a distance, those inclined to get their feet wet might consider taking a slight detour on the way back out the trail to Hidden Falls, accessible off the main trail via short path about 1.4 miles from the parking lot. It’s a small ten-foot waterfall that empties into a serene swimming hole surrounded by picnic-perfect rocks and lounging in the sun.

Once you dry off and make your way back to the car, why not celebrate the day with a cold pint just down the road at the Forks of the River Taproom or any of our enjoyable watering holes? By now, you’ll have surely worked up an appetite. From terrific food trucks to incredible fine dining, you’ll find a wide array of dining experiences throughout Transylvania County. 

When night falls, we expect you’ll be telling adventurous tales by a fire or tucked up in a warm bed in one of our relaxing accommodations. We’re pretty sure you’ll be dreaming of rainbows and mist as you think about today’s excursion or one of your many future adventures in the Land of Waterfalls.

Discover More & Think Outside

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Read the previous Field Notes here

Brought to you by Transylvania County Tourism

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