Rainbow Falls

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

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Some waterfalls attract more visitors than others. Rainbow Falls, located in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, can sometimes suff er from its own popularity. However, by simply timing your hike you can make the most of the experience. The falls will be its boldest in spring and winter. During the cold time, Rainbow Falls can turn into a frozen curtain of white hanging from a sheer rock face. In early spring, there may be a mix of water and ice. Summer will be too crowded, with throngs of in-shape and out-of -shape hikers heading to the shady rock glen where the falls drops. In fall, colorful trees will frame a thin veil of water gently spilling over stone. When sunlight shoots over the mist from the fall, a rainbow forms, giving a name to the cataract. This popular 75-foot waterfall draws in lots of visitors, many with more desire than stamina to make the 1,600-foot climb to the falls. Make your way up LeConte Creek on the north slope of Mount LeConte, passing through old-growth forest in places. The misty curtain of Rainbow Falls delivers national park–level scenery, making every step worth the reward.
Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee

by Johnny Molloy (Falcon Guides)

Some waterfalls attract more visitors than others. Rainbow Falls, located in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, can sometimes suff er from its own popularity. However, by simply timing your hike you can make the most of the experience. The falls will be its boldest in spring and winter. During the cold time, Rainbow Falls can turn into a frozen curtain of white hanging from a sheer rock face. In early spring, there may be a mix of water and ice. Summer will be too crowded, with throngs of in-shape and out-of -shape hikers heading to the shady rock glen where the falls drops. In fall, colorful trees will frame a thin veil of water gently spilling over stone. When sunlight shoots over the mist from the fall, a rainbow forms, giving a name to the cataract.

This popular 75-foot waterfall draws in lots of visitors, many with more desire than stamina to make the 1,600-foot climb to the falls. Make your way up LeConte Creek on the north slope of Mount LeConte, passing through old-growth forest in places. The misty curtain of Rainbow Falls delivers national park–level scenery, making every step worth the reward.

© 2015 Johnny Molloy /Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Gatlinburg
Distance: 5.4
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 3-4 hours
Season: Year-round
Features: Waterfalls
Local Contacts: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Rd., Gatlinburg, TN 37738, (865) 436-1200, www.nps.gov/grsm
Local Maps: Great Smoky Mountains National Park; USGS Gatlinburg
Driving Directions: Directions to Rainbow Falls

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Apr 2018