Rainbow Falls (Horsepasture River)
Rainbow Falls on the Horsepasture River
|Location||Horsepasture River, Pisgah National Forest, Blue Ridge Mountains, Transylvania County, North Carolina|
|Total height||125 ft (38.1 m)|
A proposal to route the flow of the river around the falls in the mid 1980's for a hydroelectric power plant was thwarted by public opposition. On October 27, 1986, the Horsepasture River was designated a national Wild and Scenic River, protecting the falls from future development.
The rock face over which the river flows is not vertical, but the large volume of water during normal river flows cause it to leap many feet out from the rock and a deep plunge pool lies at the bottom of the falls. It creates large amounts of wind and mist that race up the hillside opposite the falls. If the sun is in the right position, a rainbow is easily observed here, giving the falls its name.
Visiting the Falls
As of 2011, there is a new 3.0 mile round trip trail to Rainbow Falls through Gorges State Park. From the parking lot, follow the trail for 5 minutes, bearing right at the intersection. 20 minutes further, the trail enters the Nantahala National Forest, with a side trail to the left that heads to Stairway Falls. Bearing right takes you to Rainbow Falls in about 20 more minutes. Hikers can then go further up the trail to Turtleback Falls.
Prior to the opening of the park, the only path to the falls was through an unofficial trail on National Forest property.
- Little Falls - located on private property upstream from Drift Falls
- Narrows Falls - located in a gated community upstream from Drift Falls
- Rock House Falls - 55-ft falls located on private property on Burlingame Creek, a tributary of the Horsepasture River
- Turtleback Falls
- Drift Falls
- Stairway Falls
- Sidepocket Falls
- Windy Falls