Great
Smoky Mountains
National Park 


Fishing Calendar National Park Information email More Information GSMNP Index attractions in the smokies smoky mountains maps Weather in GSMNP Cabins, Chalets, Condos, Hotels, Motels, Bed and Breakfast Inn, Campgrounds and Lodges. Great Smoky Mountains National Park smoky mountain cabins, cabin rentals gatlinburg tn hotels, pigeon forge tn hotels great smoky mountains national park, gsmnp, smokey mountains great smokey mountains, smokies hiking trails, smoky mountains trout fishing, smokies driving tours, smokey mountains, gsmnp cades cove, campgrounds, park history, wildlife, wildflowers asheville nc, gatlinburg tn, cherokee north carolina, pigeon forge, townsend, sevierville, highlands, bryson city, blowing rock nc hotels, motels, discount, cheap, book online smoky mountain wedding, chapels, honeymoon weather, temperature, smoky mountains maps to smoky mountains, tennessee, north carolina, tn, nc smoky mountains site map travel links, link to us, link exchange

Rainbow Falls Trail Hike in the Smoky Mountains

Wedding in the Smokies - Smoky Mountain Wedding
Smoky Mountains Wedding Chapels

Hiking the Smokies
Rainbow Falls Trail

The Rainbow Falls Trail is one of several (see the map below) that will take you to the top of Mt. LeConte and is also the oldest or earliest route to LeConte. The trail can be challenging, but also offers an intermediate reward in that it affords the hiker a rest at the beautiful Rainbow Falls.

Summary: The Rainbow Falls Trail is fairly challenging if completed all the way to Mt LeConte. Allow an hour and a half to Rainbow Falls and four hours to Mt LeConte. Hikers will gain nearly 4,000 feet in elevation by the time they get to Mt. LeConte.

Point of Departure: Cherokee Orchard Road - Turn at light #8 in Gatlinburg and follow the Airport Road 1 mile out of Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The name will change from Airport Road to Cherokee Orchard Road. About 2.5 miles after entering the Park, Cherokee Orchard Road approaches the Rainbow Falls parking area. You will find the trail head at one edge of the parking area.

Features of Interest: Your first reward comes at the 2.8 mile point when you arrive at Rainbow Falls. At the 6.6 mile point you will come upon an Alum Cave Trail junction which leads left 0.1 mile to the LeConte Lodge (the only lodging to be found within the Park), which is 6.7 miles from where you began. Overnights at LeConte Lodge require a reservation, which should be obtained weeks or even months in advance by calling (423) 429-5704.

Abrams Falls Trail Map and Directions

A short jaunt to Rainbow Falls and a challenging climb on to Mt. LeConte await the hiker on The Rainbow Falls Trail.

The Rainbow Falls Trail gains nearly four thousand feet in 6.7 miles, making it one of the more uniquely challenging climbs in the Smokies. The original trail is arguably the oldest route to Mount LeConte, and followed the east side of LeConte Creek. At that time, LeConte Creek was known as Mill Creek-- because of the large number of grist mills that operated along the creek.

The Rainbow Falls Trail begins along the stream, and 1 mile above Cherokee Orchard, it twists away from the stream onto an exposed ridge. Shortly it returns creekside, the hiker crossing by way of a footlog, and then begins a series of climbing switchbacks.

After you cross the stream a second time, you can spot the high cliff from which the falls descend. The cliff is surrounded by a thicket of rhododendron and a growth of hemlocks.

LeConte Creek is fairly narrow at this point, and forces the water outward into a heavy mist before settling eighty-two feet below. Sunlight reflecting off this mist creates the rainbow effect which gives the falls their name.

When you cross the LeConte Creek for the third time, Rainbow Falls comes into complete view. Navigation over the rocks allows a closer approach--and a better view--of the falls. For the hardier hiker, the trail continues beyond Rainbow Falls, and becomes steeper, before changing again to a more easy course on the way to the LeConte terminus. The hiker should remember--as the trail moves up the mountain and into the cooler, moist upper reaches of LeConte--that temperatures can change considerably and unprepared hikers might find themselves in surprisingly cool temperatures--especially if it's raining. With the change in climate, plant life changes as well. Balsam, spruce, and mountain ash dominate the trees, and crimson bee balms, asters, Indian Pipes, and monkshoods are also evident.

A short distance from the summit of Mount LeConte the Bull Head and Alum Cave Bluff trails intersect the Rainbow Falls Trail. At this point, you will be only a few hundred yards from the top of Mt. LeConte and LeConte Lodge.

Note: If you have access to the internet prior to departure, you can check the general weather conditions and temperatures at different elevations. Use this only as a guideline, however, because conditions can change abruptly in the Smokies, which average 90 inches of rain each year.

 



Vacation Information

Home - Smoky Mountains National Park
National Park Info LodgingHikingFishing
WeatherMaps & DirectionsEventsAttractions
Smoky Mountains Vacation TravelSite MapLinks
Cities: Pigeon ForgeGatlinburg, Tennessee
Pigeon Forge CabinsGatlinburg Cabin Rentals


Smoky Mountains Cabin Rentals


Copyright © 1997-2008

pigeon forge logo
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee