Gorges State Park (1-29-14)
It's amazing what a few inches of snow can do to a landscape. Gorges State Park, North Carolina's westernmost about an hour-and-a-half southwest of Asheville, contains 8,000 acres of rugged boulder choked rivers and waterfalls. It also fortunately happened to be my place of employment at the time of this trip. Visiting the park on an almost daily basis, I had seen just about every personality Gorges has...except for a snowy one. So, when the flakes finally did fall this year it was an easy choice to decide where I wanted to go to play in it. No surprise, I was the only visitor at the park this morning so in effect I had my own personal 8,000 acre playground!
On this visit I'd take a walk on two of Gorge's most popular paths, the Bearwallow Valley Overlook & Rainbow Falls Trails. First up was the 1-mile loop to the Bearwallow Overlook where I hoped to get a few of the surrounding snow-coated hills. The Pièce de résistance however would be the trek down the Rainbow Falls Trail and a visit to no less than 5 waterfalls along its two mile length...Stairway, Hidden, Rainbow, Turtleback, and Drift (aka. Bust-Yer-Butt). It was time to go see Gorges State Park in her winter finest, let's hit the trail...
Bearwallow Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.101243, -82.945566
Rainbow Falls Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.088811, -82.951810
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: HARD (due to conditions)
Hike Length: 6.5 miles Hike Duration: 3:00
Trailhead Temp: 10'F Trail Traffic: NONE!!
Min. Elevation: 2,400' Max. Elevation: 3,350'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,250' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 192'
Trails Used (blaze color/shape): Bearwallow Valley (red triangles), Rainbow Falls (orange circles)