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Rainbow Falls

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.5 (69) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A gradual hike to the tallest single drop waterfall in the Smokey Mountains.


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Map Key

5.4

Miles

8.7

KM

Out and Back

4,200' 1,280 m

High

2,593' 790 m

Low

1,607' 490 m

Up

1,607' 490 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

24%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Kids will enjoy the waterfall, as well as the log bridges.

Overview

Named after the rainbow formed in the mist of the waterfall during sunny days, Rainbow Falls boasts the tallest single drop waterfall in the Smoky Mountains. The hike to the waterfall is approximately 2.7 miles.

Rocky at the beginning, but becomes more packed down after about 1.7 miles. Gradual elevation gain until the waterfalls. Parts of the trail may get muddy or icy depending on weather and temperature.

Description

The trail to the falls is a relatively easy, gradual hike with a wide path to hike through. After the falls, the trail becomes more difficult and will require much more effort to get to LeConte which gives it the higher difficulty rating. Proper footwear is highly recommended as the beginning can be fairly rocky, and continuing on the trail beyond the falls will require adequate clothing during colder periods. Hiking in the winter can also create ice formations on the trail so consider traction devices.

The trail is a steady climb, passing through a boulder field in the beginning, then continuing on to a fairly wide, packed down path with minimal rocks. The trail has switchbacks on steeper parts of the mountain leading up to the falls making it relatively easy to hike up. You'll cross two footbridges on your way to the falls, one about one mile from the waterfall and another just before the falls.

The falls are best viewed after periods of rain. Cold temperatures also provide visitors with beautiful ice formations around the waterfall.

It is important to note that visitors should avoid approaching the waterfall on the boulders as they may become slippery.

From the falls you may continue on the trail for 4.2 miles to LeConte. Here the trail becomes narrower and steeper, before becoming more moderate again. As you head up higher in elevation, you'll also notice a change in flora, with greater populations in balsam and spruce among other trees. Temperature changes can also be significant and hikers will find themselves feeling colder especially during periods of rain.

Flora & Fauna

Balsam and spruce as well as wildflowers present on the trail. One may or may not also encounter black bears.

Contacts

Shared By:

R Kahboohigh with improvements by Luke Harben

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 69 votes

#2

in Roaring Fork

#105

Overall
  4.5 from 69 votes
5 Star
58%
4 Star
39%
3 Star
1%
2 Star
1%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#2

in Roaring Fork

#105

Overall
80 Views Last Month
5,904 Since Sep 4, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Rainbow Falls
Sep 4, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Rainbow falls (rainfall has been short this year). still beautiful.
Jul 17, 2021 near Gatlinburg, TN
Rainbow Falls Trail
Sep 4, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Squirrel at Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky National Park
Mar 2, 2020 near Gatlinburg, TN
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Rainbow Falls Trail.
Sep 4, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Rainbow Falls.
Aug 4, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Apr 27, 2022
G Frank
5.4mi
Apr 16, 2022
Danielle Cintron
5.4mi
Mar 6, 2022
Alex Springer
12h 05m
Feb 5, 2022
David Mathews
Dec 8, 2021
Daryl Siddon
Oct 25, 2021
Tim Hope Kelley
Oct 20, 2021
Jessica Rae
Oct 17, 2021
Sara Cowen