Rainy Falls

Nikon D850, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 24mm, f/22, 13 seconds, ISO 200, polarizing filter.

Beauty Rating:
4
Accessibility:
Trail and bushwhack
River:
Tributary of Green River
River Basin:
Broad
Watershed:
Small
Elevation:
1,460 feet
Type and Height:
Slides and freefalls about 15 feet high
Landowner:
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
County:
Polk
USGS Map:
Cliffield Mountain
Hike Distance:
A little less than a mile
Hike Difficulty:
6-10
Photo Rating:
6
Compass:
140°
Canopy:
Closed
Waterfall GPS:
Trailhead GPS:
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Driving Directions

The trailhead is the same as for Turtle Rock Falls. Take the Saluda exit (Exit 59) off I-26 and head east (away from Saluda) on Holbert Cove Road (SR 1142). After less than 0.1 mile, turn left on the curviest paved road in North Carolina, Green River Cove Road (SR 1151). Drive about 7.8 miles and park in the long narrow pullout on the left, beside the river. This point is about 0.8 mile beyond the second bridge over Green River.

Hike Description

Walk back along the road a few yards to the creek. A narrow but easily recognizable path on river right goes upstream. Follow it about 0.2 mile to a creek crossing. Continue following the path on the river left side for 0.1 mile to a fork. To the left is the route to Turtle Rock Falls.

To reach Rainy, go right and climb steeply on the old road for 0.25 mile. After the climb ends, you’ll hike 0.1 mile on a mostly level grade to a fork. Go left and in a little over 0.1 mile you’ll come to an old bridge over the creek. The only thing remaining is a couple rotten logs. Don’t cross the creek. Instead, turn sharply right and continue following the creek upstream on river left. In about 150 yards you can hear and possibly glimpse Rainy Falls.

You’ll have to climb down the bank to reach the base, which will be a little gnarly. The best place I found to leave the old road is where there are two rocks on the left side of the road. The rock on the far left is flattish and has a little bit of moss on it. The rock next to it is more rounded, smaller, and is covered in moss.

If you’re visiting Turtle Rock Falls before going to Rainy, you might be tempted to climb up the bank beside Turtle Rock to pick up the old road. Yes, you can do that, as I did on my visit. It’ll be shorter, but that climb is pretty steep and you’ll need to be extremely careful with your steps to make sure you don’t destroy a lot of plants on the way up. I recommend backtracking from Turtle Rock and catching the old road back at the fork.

Overview

Rainy Falls is kind of like a smaller version of Turtle Rock Falls, but I don’t like it nearly as much. That said, for waterfallers who don’t mind steep hikes and short bushwhacks, it’s worth a visit.

Andy Kunkle named Rainy Falls as testimony to the weather he encountered on the hike. Jack Thyen, who along with Jennifer Loow was accompanying Andy, wanted to name it Green Dragon Falls, after an interestingly shaped rock they spotted on the hike. You can see the rock for yourself if you look off to the right, just as you top out on the 0.25-mile steep climb. You don’t have to use too much of your imagination to see how he came up with that name.

Nikon D850, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 24mm, f/13, 10 seconds, ISO 200, polarizing filter.