Have you thought about taking your kids to Rainbow Falls in Jones Gap State Park but you are unsure if they can handle the hike? I have been taking my boys up the strenuous trail to the falls since they were 5 and 6 years old – and you can too! If you know what to expect and do a little extra planning, these spectacular falls can be on your summer bucket list. Rainbow Falls drops off the edge of a granite ledge and plunges in a ribbon over 80 feet into a wading pool below – totally worth the tricky trek.
What to expect at Jones Gap State Park
Give your family plenty of time to complete this hike. The trail is around 2.5 miles one-way, mostly up in a stair-case manner. The good news is that the hike back is 2.5 miles mostly down, down, down. Plan to spend plenty of time wading at the base of the falls with a picnic in tow. Hiking alone may take 4-5 hours depending on the ages and abilities of your kids, plus picnicking time. While this is a strenuous hike, there are no major dangers on the trail itself (other than the falls, of course) it is simply sweat-inducing, and the falls are ABSOLUTELY worth it! Take breaks and enjoy the ride. The first part of the hike (and also the last part) follow along the gorgeous Saluda River in a mild manner.
My kids tend to complain on the trip up, enjoy the stay at the falls, then fly down the mountain faster than I can keep up. Every time.
Speaking of enjoying the ride, we use snacks as a means to carry on. We snack in thirty-minute intervals on strenuous trails, we snack to hike, we hike to snack. Bring the food and they will hike, bring the really good food and they will hike happily! If the weather will be particularly hot and sunny, pack extra water (stuffed with ice cubes), hats, sunscreen, and even more snacks, in addition to the usual hiking essentials. The cool water at the top will serve as a refreshing reward for all that hard work getting up there!
Pay attention to the weather in the days before you go. The drier it has been, the thinner the falls will be. While Jones Gap is only about an hour ride from downtown Spartanburg, you’ll want to get an early start! Especially on the weekends when parking is limited. You may need to wait outside the gate for a spot to open up.
Plan your own trip to Jones Gap
303 Jones Gap Road
Visit their website.
Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Park closes at 6 p.m. during daylight savings time.
Admission: $5/adult, $3/child, Free for kids 5 and under
Would your family be up for a hike up to Rainbow Falls?