Rainbow Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in northern New York. The dark tannin-stained waters crash 35 feet over a broken bedrock slide and into a narrow gorge. The falls are accessed by a 0.3-mile walking path. Several other waterfalls on the Grass River are nearby, but this is by far the most scenic.
The pull-off to visit the falls is easy to miss, so keep a sharp eye out for the boulders and small clearing on the right side of the Tooley Pond Road 5.9 miles south of the intersection with County Route 27.
The footpath begins in a small clearing and quickly meanders through the woods passing wildflowers along the way. Red trillium (Trillium erectus) and spring beauty (Claytonia virginia) are especially common in early May. Just before the main falls, a small wooden footbridge crosses a narrow side channel. In the spring, this is worth a stop, as the cascade is quite scenic.
Continuing across the bridge, the footpath spiderwebs to various overlooks of the falls. Great views can be found from all over the river bank, but keep young children within reach as the river's edge is a sheer dropoff with no safety rails. Common viewpoints are from directly above the falls and from far downstream, looking up through the narrow canyon. The heavy mist from the falls causes vivid rainbows on sunny days.
Unfortunately, the swift currents both above and below the falls prevent this from being a swimming area. Sometimes, when the water is high, whitewater kayakers will make descents of the falls. This is a challenging Class V falls, and it should only be attempted by experts. Kayakers know this waterfall as Large Marge.
To return to the vehicle, simply retrace your steps along the footpath. If you haven't already, continue downstream to visit Twin Falls and Sinclair Falls, also accessed off the Tooley Pond Road.