A Secret Waterfall in the Smoky Mountains: Rainbow Cave Falls

September 15, 2022

We know how much you love secret spots in the Smokies, which is why we want to share another one with you! There’s a secret waterfall in the Smoky Mountains called Rainbow Cave Falls. No, it’s not the same as Rainbow Falls, the well-known 80-foot, single drop waterfall. Learn all about Rainbow Cave Falls and where you can find this hidden gem below:

About Rainbow Cave Falls

rainbow cave falls in white oak sink

Rainbow Cave Falls is a 40-foot-tall waterfall located in the White Oak Sinks area. Water tumbles over rocks and flows into the cave entrance at the bottom. The stream actually continues through the cave underground.

The view of the waterfall is picturesque since it is surrounded by overgrown trees and shrubs. Don’t miss out on taking a photo of the waterfall while you’re there!

Entering the cave at the bottom of the waterfall is prohibited for safety reasons and to protect bats that live in the area from contracting white nose syndrome from humans.

How to Get to the Waterfall

To get to this waterfall in the Smoky Mountains, you will hike on Schoolhouse Gap Trail. The trailhead is located along the road in between Cades Cove and Townsend.

schoolhouse gap trail in the great smoky mountains

You’ll hike along the trail until about 1.1 miles, where you will see signs and a split. You’ll continue on Schoolhouse Gap Trail about 50 to 100 yards until you see an unmarked trail on the left. There is a sign that says “No horses” with a wooden fence so you’ll know you’re at the right spot. You’ll continue down this path to get to the waterfall.

The path to get to the falls is fairly worn and wide, making it easy to follow. After another mile, you will come to another split in the trail. Take a right and as you’re walking to the falls, you’ll start to hear the rushing of water the closer you get.

Other Features on the Trail

This secret waterfall in the Smoky Mountains isn’t the only incredible sight you can see along your hike. There are several other incredible features you can experience as you make your way along the trail.


schoolhouse gap trail

On the Schoolhouse Gap Trail portion of the hike, you can see hundreds of wildflower species in the spring and early summer. Here’s a list of some of the flowers you might see:

  • Virginia bluebells
  • Beaked violets
  • Pink lady slippers
  • Fairy wand
  • Golden aster
  • Star grass
  • Red clover
  • Rob’s plantain
  • Sun drops
  • Rhododendron
  • Mountain laurel

Another Secret Cave

There’s not one cave along this trail—there’s actually two! At the second split along the unmarked trail, if you go left, you’ll actually come to another cave called Blowhole Cave. The entrance is blocked off with iron bars to protect the Indiana bats that live in the area and to keep people safe.

Now you know all about the secret waterfall in the Smoky Mountains called Rainbow Cave Falls! We know you can’t wait to see this wonderful sight for yourself, but why stop there? Since you love learning the secrets of the Smokies, find out more about this hidden tunnel under Clingmans Dome!