Rainbow Falls Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Elevation Gain4,056ft
Trailhead Elevation2,581ft
Elevation Min/Max2581/5977ft
Elevation Start/End2581/2581ft

Rainbow Falls Trail

Rainbow Falls Trail is a hiking trail in Sevier County, Tennessee. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is 5.8 miles long and begins at 2,581 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 11.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,056 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms and parking. The Rocky Spur ridge can be seen along the trail. This trail connects with the following: Bull Head Trail and Trillium Gap Trail.

Rainbow Falls Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Falcon Guides)
Kevin Adams
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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." Read more
Top Trails: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 2nd Edition (Wilderness Press)
Johnny Molloy
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"This deservedly popular hike reaches a waterfall on the shoulder of Mount Le Conte. Hike up attractive Le Conte Creek Valley, where the creek cascades over rocks and into pools. Trek among big boulders and under old-growth trees to reach Rainbow Falls, a curtain-type cascade. Note: The forest along this hike was affected by the Chimney Tops 2 fire of 2016. The falls is at its boldest in winter and spring. Wildflowers are abundant in spring also. Summer can be too crowded. At Rainbow Falls, you may get a frozen curtain falling off the sheer rock face. In spring, the heavy flow may have a pile of melting ice under it." Read more
Hiking Waterfalls in Tennessee (Falcon Guides)
Johnny Molloy
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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." Read more

Rainbow Falls Trail Reviews

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Great trail with awesome reward at the end!

Rainbow Falls Trail Photos

Trail Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nearby City
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Wildflowers, Waterfalls
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Rd., Gatlinburg, TN 37738, (865) 436-1200, www.nps.gov/grsm
Local Contacts
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)
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018