Rainbow Falls Trail

The first mile of this popular, but strenuous trail follows LeConte Creek.  There are several great picnic sites along this stretch of trail. There are two footbridges along the way; one at 1.7 miles, and another before reaching the 80-foot high waterfall, located approximately 2.7 miles from the trailhead. Rainbow Falls has the distinction of being the highest single-drop waterfall in the Smokies named from the rainbow that's produced by mist on sunny afternoons. During extended cold periods an impressive ice formation builds around the waterfall. The rocks around the falls are quite slippery due to mist and algae so the Park warns hikers to not climb on rocks near waterfalls as death or serious injuries can occur. From Rainbow Falls, the trail continues for another 4.2 miles to the summit of Mt. LeConte which is the third highest mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Please keep in mind bicycles and dogs are NOT allowed on this trail and a parking pass is required when parking longer than 15 minutes at the trailhead. 

Trail Info:

Region: Cherokee Orchard Rd
Length: 6.7 miles (one-way)
Rated: Moderate to Hard
Elevation Gain: 3,900 ft
Route Type: Out & Back or Point-to-Point


Hiking, Waterfall, Forest, River, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Rocky, No Dogs, Popular


Get Google Directions

Starting at Light 8 in Gatlinburg, turn onto Historic Nature Trail / Airport Road.  At .7 miles veer right onto Cherokee Orchard Road which is part of Great Smokies National Park. Drive 2.2 miles where you will enter the one-way Cherokee Orchard Loop Road. At around .6 miles, you will turn right into the Rainbow Falls Parking Area.

Preview Trail

Trail Map



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