Rainbow Falls

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

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At Rainbow Falls, LeConte Creek spills over a hanging ledge some 80 feet to the rocks below. Much of the water changes to mist before it reaches bottom, and from the proper angle on a sunny day, you can see rainbows in the mist. In winter, after prolonged cold spells, the waterfall can freeze from bottom to top. Although seeing it requires a difficult and fairly long round-trip hike, Rainbow Falls is among the more popular destinations in the park. Expect to have some company on this hike at any time of year. Begin on Rainbow Falls Trail at the western end of the main parking area. In a few hundred feet, you cross Trillium Gap Trail and begin climbing alongside LeConte Creek on a rocky path. The steady ascent continues all the way to the falls, and so do the rocks. You might be tempted to rename this trail the “Rocky Falls Trail” before you finish.
Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park

by Kevin Adams (Falcon Guides)

At Rainbow Falls, LeConte Creek spills over a hanging ledge some 80 feet to the rocks below. Much of the water changes to mist before it reaches bottom, and from the proper angle on a sunny day, you can see rainbows in the mist. In winter, after prolonged cold spells, the waterfall can freeze from bottom to top. Although seeing it requires a difficult and fairly long round-trip hike, Rainbow Falls is among the more popular destinations in the park. Expect to have some company on this hike at any time of year.

Begin on Rainbow Falls Trail at the western end of the main parking area. In a few hundred feet, you cross Trillium Gap Trail and begin climbing alongside LeConte Creek on a rocky path. The steady ascent continues all the way to the falls, and so do the rocks. You might be tempted to rename this trail the “Rocky Falls Trail” before you finish.

© 2013 Kevin Adams/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Gatlinburg
Distance: 5.4
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Duration: 3.5 hours
Season: Best season: Spring for the wildflowers
Features: Waterfalls, Wildflowers
Local Maps: Mount LeConte USGS quad; Trails Illustrated #229 Great Smoky Mountains; Trails Illustrated #317 Clingmans Dome Cataloochee; Trails Illustrated #316 Cades Cove Elkmont (shows the trailhead only)
Driving Directions: Directions to Rainbow Falls

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Apr 2018