Height: 125 feet
Trail Type: Dirt
Hike Distance: 3 miles round trip
Rainbow Falls, despite the long hike, is totally worth it. The hike itself isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just long. And if you’re used to doing short hikes, it’s a difficult adjustment to make. The only truly difficult part is taking the scramble path down below the observation point to get closer to the falls.
Rainbow Falls itself is a massive waterfall where the Horsepasture River drops 125 feet off of an open cliff and makes a 90-degree turn at the bottom. From the top of the falls, the water fans out and more than triples in width by the time it reaches the pool below. Based on how much open rock remains to the left of the falls, I can imagine it gets much bigger after heavy amounts of rain.
Same as for Upper Bearwallow Falls. When you arrive at the visitor’s center, stay straight and drive to the obvious parking area on the left.
The hike descends gradually down the ridge before coming to a T-junction. Going left takes you to a campsite. Turn right and follow the orange blazes to Rainbow Falls. You’ll eventually leave park property and enter National Forest property. That’s not a big deal, really.
The trail continues to descend until you cross a small creek and a campsite. The trail then follows the river past Hidden Falls before ascending to the observation point for the falls. The view here is nice, but you can continue on a few yards to one of a few scramble paths that lead closer to the base of the falls. Because the waterflow is typically pretty high, the dirt will be somewhat muddy and the rocks will be slick, so be careful. If you go on a hot day, the mist blowing off the falls will be a welcome refreshment after the hike.