Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rainbow Falls
Rutherford County, NC
Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Me at Rainbow Falls

There are several "Rainbow Falls" in the Carolinas, but one that I had yet to visit has been the one in Rutherford County, NC.  I have caught some distant views of it on occasion from way across the gorge at Chimney Rock Park, but I have never see it up close. 

Andy and I had signed up for the CMLC (Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) hike to Bearwallow Mountain.  However, that hike didn't start until 10:30am which meant we had some time in the morning to do a little exploring.

Thanks to the efforts of groups like the CMLC, the Rainbow Falls property is now owned by the State of North Carolina.  However, official public access has still not been established.  Fortunately Andy and I received a tip on how we could access Rainbow Falls.

The morning started with an unusual event!  Andy actually arrived at our meet-up spot at the Lake Lure Marina a few minutes before me!  We combined into my truck and continued up through Chimney Rock and turned into the "Reserve at Rainbow Falls" development.

Years ago, the side of the mountain below Rainbow Falls was scarred when a developer put in a road and tried to sell about a dozen $400,000 lots.  Years later, not a single lot has been sold, but the road is still there and would lead us to an access point to Rainbow Falls.

Yes, technically we started out on private property, but if anyone asks we were looking to invest in a mountain side piece of property.  Lot #6 looked like a good one to check out, so we parked my truck, grabbed our cameras and tripods, and walked up the hill to the far back corner of the lot where low and behold we ran into the official boundary line of the new State Park.  Maybe we could get a better overview of lot #6 if we continued higher up the mountain?

We could catch a few glimpses of Rainbow Falls through the trees up ahead, but from here the more impressive view was an across the gorge view of Hickory Nut Falls.

Zoomed in distant view of Hickory Nut Falls

Officially inside public property we followed an obvious trail which switchbacks up the mountain gaining about 400-feet of elevation.  We were surprised to come across a small A-Frame cabin, obvious signs that this land was once private property.  We did receive confirmation later in the day that the cabin is now owned by the State of North Carolina and officially inside the state park boundary.

A-Frame Cabin near the base of Rainbow Falls

We continued on a short distance past the cabin towards Rainbow Falls.  I was glad I convinced Andy to meet a half hour earlier than planned.  While this wasn't a long hike by any means, we would have been pushed for time if we went with our original meet-up time.  Plus a half hour later and the sun would have made photography much more difficult.

The sun creeping over the ridge making photography from this angle difficult

We spent about a half hour photographing Rainbow Falls from various vantage points before heading back down to my vehicle.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

On the hike down, we rain into a group of about 12 hikers.  Apparently they were interested in checking out Lot #6 as well.  In fact, I think I will have to head back and check out Lot #6 again during the spring.  We noticed a few trillium starting to come up by the base of the falls!


HemlockMan said...

Yep! Lot #5 sounds like the one!

Nice waterfall!

Brenda W. said...

Gosh Jack! Considering this was just the "appetizer" of the day, what a way to start!! Your shots are gorgeous, but the side photo of Rainbow is breathtaking!!

Cassandra said...

Nice post. I have also made the hike and was surprised to find the cabin. Unfortunately the trail to the base of the falls was in bad shape and we did not get much further. I was looking for more info on rainbow falls and the cabin when I found this. Thanks for the great pics!