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After 2 years of rehabilitation projects, the Rainbow Falls Trail is fully reopened to the public! A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Nov. 14 to thank the work crew, volunteers, park partners, and donors for their support in completing the project. We’ve got all the details on the Rainbow Falls Trail and its rehabilitation projects.
Rainbow Falls Trail Project
The Rainbow Falls Trail needed improvements to enhance the safety of the trail and increase the trail’s durability so it wasn’t impacted by its large number of visitors. The trail was closed Mondays through Thursdays so rehabilitation could be completed. There are now 350 new steps through narrow corridors, 600 feet of elevated trail surfaces, 400 new drains to help prevent erosion, and 1,000 new stones used to clearly mark the trail. About a mile of visitor-made side trails that could confuse hikers looking to stay on the path have been removed as well.
About the Trails Forever Program
The work for the Rainbow Falls Trail was done through the Trails Forever Program, a partnership between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Friends of the Smokies nonprofit organization. The program provides a full-time crew to maintain trail quality and fund rehabilitation projects like that of Rainbow Falls. In 2019, the Trails Forever Program will begin a 2-year rehabilitation project on the Trillium Gap Trail, which will be closed May 6, 2019 through Nov. 14, 2019, excluding federal holidays, on Monday mornings at 7 a.m. through Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m. weekly.
More About the Rainbow Falls Trail
Rainbow Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the Smoky Mountains. It is a 5.4-mile hike that is considered moderate in difficulty. The trail gains about 1,500 feet in elevation between the trailhead and the falls, but the gorgeous sight of Rainbow Falls is well worth every step. On sunny afternoons, hikers can see a rainbow produced by the mist of the 80-foot waterfall. During extended cold weather in the winter, an impressive ice formation builds around the falls. Many hikers turn around once they reach the falls, but the trail actually continues for another 4 miles to the summit of Mount LeConte, the third highest peak in the Smoky Mountains.
Other Popular Trails in the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 800 miles of hiking trails for visitors to explore. Each trail offers its own beautiful sights, from cascading waterfalls to an abundance of wildflowers. There are trails for every skill level, from beginners to expert hikers. Here are some of the most popular trails in the park:
Laurel Falls Trail: The Laurel Falls Trail is a 2.6-mile roundtrip hike that offers views of an 80-foot-tall waterfall. Laurel Falls has both an upper and lower section that is divided by a walkway, so visitors can actually cross over the waterfall!
Ramsey Cascades Trail: The Ramsey Cascades Trail offers one of the most spectacular views in the park. This 8-mile roundtrip gains 2,000 feet in elevation on the course to the waterfall, but the view is well worth it. Ramsey Cascades is 100 feet high, making it the tallest waterfall in the park.
Gatlinburg Trail: The Gatlinburg Trail is a 1.9-mile hike that begins at the Sugarlands Visitors Center and travels to the outskirts of Gatlinburg. It offers beautiful views of the Little Pigeon River, as well as foundations and chimneys of old homesites. It is one of only two trails in the park that allows dogs.
Now that you know all about the reopening of the Rainbow Falls Trail, it’s time to plan your hiking trip! Start by browsing our cabins in the Smoky Mountains and finding the perfect place to stay.