The Rainbow Falls Trail is a long-time favorite in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In fact, it's thought to be the first route that led to the top of Mount LeConte. Found off the Cherokee Orchard Road just beyond downtown Gatlinburg, the Rainbow Falls Trail follows, and occasional hopscotches, LeConte Creek on the way to the 80-foot waterfall.
While the entire trail runs about 6.6 miles to the Alum Cave Trail and a spur that leads off to LeConte Lodge, the hike to Rainbow Falls is less than 3 miles one way. The hike to the falls isn't terribly strenuous, and you run the chance of seeing deer browsing in the forest of rhododendron, hemlocks, fir, and mountain ash. Hit the trail at the right season and you also will enjoy showy crimson bee balm, yellow coreopsis, purple asters, and other wildflowers.
Due to the heavy humidity that can hang in the air throughout the summer, moss covers just about everything that lies in one place too long. On hot summer days, the pools that form along LeConte Creek are mighty inviting.
This photo was taken during the week of August 3, 2008. Earlier in the summer the flows would be much greater.
For a view of this waterfall in action, check out this short video by "Canonfather."