Stairway Falls Spur

Gorges State Park - Rainbow Falls Trail

My time working for Gorges State Park in Western North Carolina offered me many unique opportunities to see parts of the park in ways the average visitor doesn't always get to.  Such was the case on this day.  Two days of snow had dumped over a foot of the white stuff on the park, which had subsequently been closed to visitors until it could be made safely accessible again.  This meant that I had the park to myself and it was a park in a form rarely seen.

My plan for the afternoon would be to repeat a hike I had done many, many times before...the popular Rainbow Falls Trail.  Along its two-mile length (along with one spur trail) I'd visit the four waterfalls along its length (Stairway, Rainbow, Turtleback, & Drift) before returning by the route I came.  The day was a foggy one as low clouds hung over the gorge so pictures weren't as clear as I might have liked.  It does lend a certain mysterious and stormy air to the album though which I like.  So, come along with me and see what Gorges State Park looks like in full winter garb...believe me, it's quite a treat...

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:35.088811, -82.951810

Route Type:  Out-and-back           Difficulty:  CHALLENGING  (Petzoldt Rating:  6.20 )

Hike Length:  4.5 miles                    Hike Duration:  2:30

Trailhead Temp: 30'F                      Trail Traffic:  NONE!!

Min. Elevation:  2,400'                     Max. Elevation:  2,950'

Total Vertical Gain:  850'                Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  189'

Trails Used (blaze color/shape):  Rainbow Falls (orange circles), Stairway Falls (unblazed)


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