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Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

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Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek

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  • A creek on the way to Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A foggy day on the trail.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Fog obscuring the forest in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Bluffs located by Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Forest understory along the trail to Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Rainbow Falls from the side.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Falls can be very powerful when there is heavy rainfall.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Standing behind Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A side creek on the Rainbow Falls Trail. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A local resident pausing for his photo. The trail was heavily affected by the 2016 wildfires, however, it is currently thriving and becoming full of life again. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • The Rainbow Falls trail has recently been restored by the National Park Service Trails Forever Crew. Restoration will be completed at the upper end of the trail in November of 2018.  - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Rainbow Falls Trail.- Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A tree that was burned during the 2016 fires is now surrounded with lushness and life. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A spring beauty wildflower blooming along the trail. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • The Smokies are considered to be the Salamander Capital of the World, and you'll easily see why as you make your way up the Rainbow Falls Trail. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A small waterfall located just before Rainbow Falls. Many times when the flow is high, first time visitors assume that this is Rainbow Falls - it's definitely not...keep going! - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Rainbow Falls. Continue over the bridge to finish up your hike at the LeConte Lodge that sits 4.2 miles above the falls on the Smokies third highest peak - Mount LeConte. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Lunch time! - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • White violets are very common on the Rainbow Falls Trail, as well as in other areas of the Smokies. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • A stream running through the Rainbow Falls area of the Smokies. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Rhododendrons are returning to the Rainbow Falls Trail, and they're absolutely stunning! - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Follow the beauty of the Rainbow Falls Trail all the way to Mount LeConte! - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
  • Make a reservation for the LeConte Lodge to enjoy a beautiful sunrise from high above the tourists spots of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. - Rainbow Falls Trail via LeConte Creek
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Old-growth forest. Large waterfall. Short hike.
Cons: 
Crowded parking area.
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Region:
Smoky Mountains, TN
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,685.00 ft (513.59 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
5.40 mi (8.69 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,600.00 ft (792.48 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The 2.7-mile (one-way) hike to Rainbow Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is almost entirely uphill. The trail gains close to 1,700 feet in under 3 miles. However, the trek to Rainbow Falls is well worth the effort, especially since the overall mileage is rather low.

On the way to Rainbow Falls, LeConte Creek cascades along the right side of the trail for almost the entire duration of the hike. There are two creek crossings on the way, as well as plenty of great picnic sites to stop hiking, relax, and have a snack.  

Rainbow Falls are the highest single-drop waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you're lucky, you will visit on a day when the mist created by the waterfall interacts with the sunlight shining through the trees. This effect creates the frequent rainbows seen by the falls and is the reason the falls were given its name. The falls are best viewed during or after long periods of rain because this is when the waterfall displays its most powerful flows.

If hiking to Rainbow Falls itself isn't enough, the trail continues for another 4.2 miles to the famous summit of Mount LeConte, the third-highest peak in the Smoky Mountains.

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(6 within a 30 mile radius)

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