What a beautiful day for a hike!! After being “holed up” for Winter, and a 45 minute car ride to Gorges State Park, we set our sights on three waterfalls; Rainbow, Turtleback, and Drift Falls.
We’d been to Rainbow Falls about three years ago, but didn’t see a rainbow at all. By getting to the falls mid-morning, we saw Rainbow Falls showing off what it does best – rainbows. Typically Western North Carolina receives a bucket load of rain, but on this particular day the area has enjoyed some dryer weather. In spite of the dry weather, the volume of water roaring off Rainbow Falls was impressive. After making the mile and half trek to Rainbow Falls, the mist was a welcomed relief. By hiking early in the morning, we were able to beat have most of the falls to ourselves. It is early in the season though.
Let’s chat a bit about this hike. As I write this blog post the day after hiking Gorges State Park, I hurt in several different places and feel every bit of my age. Keep in mind that the majority of the hike to Rainbow Falls is downhill, which means you’ll need to be mentally prepared to get yourself out of the gorge by going uphill on the return trip. While the elevation change isn’t too bad, making the return trip out of the gorge will definitely take your breath away especially if you’ve hiked further out than Rainbow.
Rainbow Falls has two places to enjoy the cascade. One overlook happens to be right on the trail, while the other heads down towards the base of the falls. Both places provided excellent spots for taking photos, even with the volume of water pouring over the rocks. To get different angled shots while you’re there, continue on the trail a bit and then head down closer to river left for some great winter shots. Sure, there will be trees in the foreground, but once those leaves fill in, the view will be covered.
As a full-fledged AARP member, I struggled with the distance we covered in a single outing. I believe when all was said and done, we hiked a total of 5 or 6 miles. And yet, my two replaced knees are ready for more hiking today! Hiking to three cascades in a single outing isn’t something to take lightly.
As is always the case, leave no trace. Please do NOT leave any trace that you, or your hiking partners, have even been on the trail. Gather up your trash and keep it with you until you’re out of the park. Leaving trash all over our beautiful waterfalls will certainly be their demise. Treat these waterfalls as you would anyone else you love. Keep them clean!
Finally, do NOT attempt to walk across the top of this waterfall………….or any cascade for that matter. Ever been out hiking and heard a helicopter? That’s probably someone in trouble or needing rescued from themselves. Climb out on slick, wet rocks and you, too, can enjoy your first helicopter ride! It’s dangerous in and around waterfalls. Respect the power of water and gravity – do not try to climb out where no one has been before.