Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park_ Forever_sabbatical

Rainbow Falls Trail is located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee side. This week’s blog is a flash in the past to about 10 years ago when we were out exploring trails in Tennessee.

Rainbow Falls Trail


Nation Park Service (NPS) reports there are about 1,500 feet in elevation gains on this trail. The 5.4-mile roundtrip hike is considered moderate in difficulty per the NPS website. I think it would be hard to classify hikes, as it is up to the person’s ability and experience. Does anyone know what the standards are for a hiking trail rating?


As you are exploring the area and hiking along, there are old homesites to visit. Do you like viewing old homesites? I like to see the floor plan of the home. What is the center point? Usually, it is the fireplace. Do you notice the fireplaces are usually the most structurally sound or last part of the home to remain standing?

Streams and Bridges

We enjoy hiking along streams with running water. That might sound silly, as wouldn’t all streams have running water. Nope, we have hiked many areas that the streams were dry. 

Bridges, large and small fascinate us. There are many to cross on this trail.

Rainbow Falls


NPS website reports the falls are 80-feet high. No climbing on the waterfall. For all those who love to get up close and climb on the rocks near or in the falls, there would not be the place for you.


As with every hike bring drinking water. The trail can be rocky therefore wear sturdy shoes, no flip flops. Because nears are present, bring your bear pepper spray for aggressive wild animals.

Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Have you visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park? If yes, was it the NC or TN side?

33 thoughts on “Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  1. We are all looking forward to traveling again. This seems like a wonderful place to start.

  2. Rainbow Falls, along with Laurel Falls, is one of our very favorites! Thank you for sharing such lovely photos. The picture with the homesite reminds me of the Roaring Fork Motor Nature trail too!

  3. What a great hike! You got to see a little bit of everything. We’ve done a few short hikes in Gatlinburg, TN but that’s it for the Smokies – so far!

  4. What a beautiful location! We recently visited the Smokey Mountains for the first time and we loved all of the history and historic sites that were throughout the park. Oh, and the black bears too!

  5. Looks like a wonderful trail! I hope to make it back east in the next year or so to visit this area.

  6. The picture of you standing below the falls is beautiful! I’m so thankful our provincial parks will be opening soon so we can explore some local trails.

  7. I haven’t had a chance to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but I definitely want to do so soon. We live in NC, but I wouldn’t mind visiting either side on our first trip.

  8. I love exploring the Smoky Mountains, but I haven’t done Rainbow Falls Trail yet. We’ve done Cades Cove, Roaring Forks, and Clingman’s Dome. I always want to try a new one when we’re in the area. I’ll put this one on my list!

  9. This looks like a great hike. I love when there are interesting things along the way.

  10. This reminds me of my childhood. We used to hike to local falls! I haven’t done it in over 10 years. Time to try again with my kiddos, I think!

  11. Gorgeous hike! I visited Great Smoky Mountains NP when I had just started hiking. I would love to go now that I have more miles under my boots.

  12. I haven’t been to the Great Smoky Mountains since I was a child. We live in Kentucky, so we aren’t that far. I need to make plans to take my kids there. They are old enough to get out and hike a bit and would enjoy seeing a place like Rainbow Falls.

  13. It looks like a great hike. Exercise, along with the beauty will help wipe away any anxiety.

  14. I wish we would have had time to explore more of these places on our recent trip to Tennessee.

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