Rainbow Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfall settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This 150-foot tall waterfall is impressive, especially after rainy weather that swells the Horsepasture River. The best feature of Rainbow Falls is the ability for visitors to experience the falls from the front, bottom, side, and top! Located in the Pisgah National Forest, adjacent to Gorges State Park, Rainbow Falls is just one of a series of cascades and waterfalls on a two-mile stretch of the river. The park is in the Sapphire community, near Lake Toxaway and about 55 miles from downtown Asheville.
When the water is low, there are plenty of rocks for picnics and a tranquil pool for a dip. Be careful of slippery rocks. Please use common sense and do not climb up the rock face, jump from the cliff or wade in water above the falls.
To reach Rainbow Falls, you'll need to hike 1.5 miles from Gorges State Park at the Grassy Ridge Parking area (drive about 2 miles after entering the park). Look for the cluster of information boards at the end of the parking lot. The trail to Rainbow Falls begins there, blazed with orange circles until you reach the National Forest - about halfway. Then the trail is easy to follow with a creek crossing that can be a wet one when the water is high.
When you near the river (about 2/3 of a mile), be sure to follow the trail upriver (toward your right). Hike by the many cascades with a few steep sections with stairs. Enjoy a full view of the falls from the trail. Plus, there are side trails that take you for a closer view from the base and side of the falls. Just past the main view of the falls, look for a side trail to the left that takes you to a wooden platform viewing area. It's a rare treat to get this close to a big waterfall.
Yes, you'll see a rainbow in the mist on many sunny days - especially when the water is high. The rainbow is often brightest with the lower angle of the morning sun.