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A challenging climb leads to a rewarding view below Rainbow Falls.

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Point to Point

2,659' 811 m


1,570' 478 m


1,105' 337 m


16' 5 m



Avg Grade (8°)


Max Grade (24°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Family Friendly This has a great waterfall view but kind of a steep climb up a well maintained trail, so rest stops may be needed for some.

9/13/2020 - The trails are open daily from 9-5 due to COVID. Be sure to register at the trailhead, as it's important info in the case of a rescue. If there's an emergency, there's an emergency phone located at the ranger station.


This trail starts from the Jones Gap Trail. Rainbow Falls Trail #4 is marked Red Blaze, rated as Very Strenuous by the Ranger Station, 1.5 miles one way with a recommended 2 hour out and back time.

Within the first part of the trail, there will be 3 bridges to cross. The first and third will be wider-style foot bridges where the second is a narrow log bridge with a railing. Afterwards, the incline will begin in earnest as the trail switchbacks its way into the hillside to a set of slide falls on your left below you.

At 0.8 miles, the trail will switch back by a set of slide falls, which is a nice resting spot before continuing the climb.

From 0.8-1.2 miles, the trail leaves the falls to continue on a narrow, rocky, steep trail up the mountainside and pass a small stream of water down the granite slab next to the trail. Near the end of this section, there will be a side trail on your right that is private and goes up to the YMCA camp on top of the mountain. From here, continue straight to reach Rainbow Falls (80-100 feet high), which has two sections: you'll have to cross the lower section on rocks in order to reach the trail that goes up to the upper section where the higher falls live.

Be careful climbing around, as wet rocks become very slippery and this is not an easy place for help to retrieve you. After a break visiting the falls, head back down to the junction with the Jones Gap Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Hardwood trees such as oak and hickory grow here. Otherwise, some shorter trees, like flowering dogwood, rhododendron but not thick. Maybe see ferns, flowers, and mosses at ground level.

Animals in the area include black bears, white-tailed deer, reptiles, amphibians, wild turkey, woodpeckers, warblers, eastern blue bird, and spring migratory songbird to name a few.


Shared By:

Mark P... with improvements by Stan stasiewicz1@gmail.com

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 9 votes


  4.8 from 9 votes
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Trail Rankings


31 Views Last Month
4,021 Since Nov 12, 2017
Difficult Difficult



Reward after a climb up Rainbow Falls Trail to find Rainbow Falls, view from the lower level.
Nov 14, 2017 near Slater-…, SC
Sometimes the Rainbow is more than just falls, it can also be from some of the fall leaves, either way, probably why it is called Rainbow Falls.
Nov 15, 2017 near Slater-…, SC
Rainbow Falls Trail is steep in sections with stairs cut into the rocks but a nice trail and will go right below a granite face with another small stream as you get closer to the falls.
Nov 15, 2017 near Slater-…, SC
Before Rainbow Falls is reached, you'll come across these falls about halfway up the trail and makes a nice rest stop to watch and listen.
Nov 15, 2017 near Slater-…, SC



Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 53 days ago
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