HORSEPASTURE RIVER (VIA NC 281)

LOCATION: Western North Carolina
HIKE STARTS: NC 281
HIKE ENDS: NC 281
TOTAL DISTANCE: 6.2 Miles
HIKE TYPE: In and Out, Backtrack Hike
HIKE DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Difficult
TRAILS USED: Rainbow Falls, Windy Falls
TRAIL TRAFFIC: Light to Moderate
TRIP TYPE: Day or Overnight Hike

MORE INFORMATION:
Gorges State Park
P.O. Box 100
976 Grassy Ridge Road
Sapphire, NC 29774
(828) 966-9099

HIGHLIGHTS: Gorges State Park is one of North Carolina’s newest state parks. The property was purchased on April 29, 1999 by the state from Duke Energy Corporation. The transaction created a 2,900-acre gameland managed by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and a 7,100-acre state park with plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States.

This hike along the Horsepasture River starts at NC 281 and descends out of Gorges State Park and into the Nantahala National Forest. The path continues past Turtleback Falls then on to Rainbow Falls, one of the most scenic waterfalls in the southeast. Those with excellent route finding skills can continue deeper into the Nantahala National Forest and follow the trail to Windy Falls which drops nearly 500 feet over a series of cascades. Many of the state park’s facilities are still being developed, so information, rules and regulations are subject to change. It is 6.2 miles roundtrip to Windy Falls and about three miles roundtrip to Rainbow Falls which can be mobbed in the summer months.

North Carolina Hiking Trails Guidebook For This Area Nantahala Trail MapTrail Map For This Area

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