Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Falls

rainbow falls horsepasture river gorges state park

Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park (photo cred Southern High Roads)

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Gorges State Park is a beautiful park located in western North Carolina, near the town of Sapphire. The park covers over 7,500 acres and features stunning waterfalls, rugged gorges, and a variety of wildlife. It is a popular destination for hiking, fishing, and camping, and offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the region.

One of the main attractions of Gorges State Park is the Horsepasture River, which runs through the park and offers excellent fishing and swimming opportunities. The river is known for its clear, cold water and its population of rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Visitors can fish for trout in designated areas of the river, or simply enjoy swimming or tubing in its refreshing waters.
In addition to the Horsepasture River, Gorges State Park is home to several stunning waterfalls, including Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls, and Drift Falls. These waterfalls are easily accessible from hiking trails within the park and offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the region.

Rainbow Falls is a popular waterfall that drops about 150 feet into a pool below, and visitors can admire its beauty from several viewing platforms. What makes Rainbow Falls unique is the rainbow that often appears in the mist created by the waterfall on sunny days.
The hike to Rainbow Falls is a moderate to strenuous 3.5-mile round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,500 feet. The trail winds through the forest, crossing streams and offering views of the surrounding mountains. The hike can be challenging at times, but the stunning scenery and the reward of seeing Rainbow Falls make it well worth the effort.

Turtleback Falls in Gorges State Park (photo cred HD Carolina)

Turtleback Trail is a moderate 2.5-mile round trip that offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests. The trail is named for the large rock outcrop that resembles the back of a turtle, which visitors can climb up for a panoramic view of the area.
The Turtleback Trail is a great option for hikers looking for a shorter, less strenuous hike than Rainbow Falls. However, it still offers plenty of natural beauty and opportunities for exploration. The trail is also popular among birdwatchers, as it passes through a variety of habitats and is home to many species of birds.

Overall, both Rainbow Falls and Turtleback Trail are excellent options for hikers and nature lovers visiting the Highlands area of North Carolina. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, these trails offer some of the most stunning scenery in the region.

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