My family loves to make fun of me. Actually we love to make fun of each other, up until the point of someone getting angry, and then it's not so funny. But we won't discuss those moments here. My point here is that I thought I was going to John's Cap State Park until I was probably 12. Maybe older...I think no one told me so that they could laugh at me. Anyway, every time I go to JONES GAP State Park I am reminded of this. Our family spent many weekends hiking and exploring, and for that I am grateful. I like to think my kids will remember these trips fondly as well.
While I have my list of hikes to complete by the end of 2017, of course I strayed from that and decided to tackle Rainbow Falls this weekend...a trail I haven't completed since I was a kid. And why, I do not know, because it is now in my top three trails, if not #1.
Jones Gap State Park: Rainbow Falls Trail
2.2 miles one way | Difficult
Rainbow Falls is gorgeous, but for me the actual trail is what makes this one of my favorites. There's just something magical about hiking deep in the forest, surrounded by lush green mountain laurel, listening to the cool water of the river rushing by.
The hike up is difficult, but not as hard as I expected. The views along the way are spectacular and make it well worth the journey. No pain, no gain - right?! My tips, because I know you can't wait:
GO EARLY. The parking lot fills up and guess what - you gotta wait at the entrance until someone leaves. Also, there is a fee to get in.
Bring water, a camera, and good hiking shoes. And of course, take a picnic. DUH!
This is quite a rocky trail and there are steep ravines, so watch your step, or you will end up with scrapes & bruises, or worse!
You can hike up the left side of the falls, which I did with my Dad when I was 8, but that was back in the 80's when we lived dangerously. I would suggest only experienced hikers who don't mind if they die try this.
It took us about 2.5 hours there and back. The ranger said anywhere from 3-4.
Most importantly, enjoy every bit of it. Take a moment to breathe in the mountain air (especially after climbing up a million stairs). Build your own zen rock tower and take a LOT of Instagram-worthy pictures of it. Keep an eye out for wildlife - especially snakes, but mostly birds, lizards, and beautiful butterflies. Pick a big rock by the falls and just look up in awe. Cause it's all breathtaking.
I HIGHLY recommend this trail. Until next time, happy trails!