So You Want To Go To Rainbow Falls?

Singletrack trails of Signal Mountain.
Singletrack trails of Signal Mountain. Mark McKnight
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Rainbow Falls is a beautiful waterfall just minutes from downtown Chattanooga in the town of Signal Mountain, Tennessee. This article used to be a step-by-step guide to finding this hidden gem. However, too many people read the article and found this area, leaving the social trail unsafe and creating many alternate trails. As a result, we're removing the directions from the site until the area can be addressed.

We'd like to do some fundraising and get a group together to complete trail maintenance on this area; if you have interest, reach out to us at

Below you'll find the original instructions, but we stop as we direct to you to Signal Point; that area makes for a great day hike and is still highly recommended.

Chattanooga has a lot of places to get outdoors, and we'd like to help you explore it! Here is an exciting afternoon trip that provides you with the opportunity to discover one of the most hidden gems in all of the Scenic City - Rainbow Falls.

Getting There
Just a short drive from downtown Chattanooga, head up the front of Signal Mountain to start your day's adventure. Located at the bottom of the mountain are groceries and gas stations for any last minute fuel stops you may need for nutrition and water. Note to drivers, the only wreck that I have ever had was on this road, so please drive carefully. I was sixteen and it was raining, but never the less, drive with caution.

Parking and Trailhead

Once you've arrived to the top of the mountain, you'll be greeted with a traffic light. Before this light, turn left and follow the signs to Signal Point. Remember, Signal Mountain is a family-town, so please drive with care. When approaching Alexian Village, don't turn left on Signal Point Road, but keep straight on, on Ohio Avenue. The trailhead and parking lot is a short distance further on, on the left. Generally, there is plenty of room to park here. For directions straight to the trailhead click here!

Hike Down to Rainbow Lake
The hike down to Rainbow Lake from the trailhead is fairly casual and great for first time hikers. Half-way down the trail, it splits down towards the gully where Rainbow Lake is located.

Follow The Blue Blazes
Continue down towards Rainbow Lake, as the trail begins to get steep in a few places. If you enjoy bouldering, check out a few short unnamed problems on your right.

Take A Break
Once you've arrived at Rainbow Lake, take some time to explore the area around the dam. There is a small trail located on the top of the dam that will lead you to backwoods creeks and moss covered rock gardens. This is a great spot if the dam is crowded and you are looking to grab a quiet snack before you head to the falls. In the summer, locals will swim in this area, and even jump off the dam (guilty). If you choose to swim, or partake in more risky activities around this area, please check the water levels, as they do fluctuate with the seasons. For example, I did the rope swing about two months ago, and skillfully landed smack on a rock. After your break at Rainbow Lake, get ready for the next part of the adventure - Rainbow Falls!

Hike Towards Signal Point
Start heading down along the creek until you see the iconic Signal Mountain swinging bridge. Here, you are met with two segments of the Cumberland Trail - one to Signal Point and one to Suck Creek Road, via Edwards Point. You are going to hike towards Signal Point, so don't cross the bridge, just play on it.

[Remaining steps redacted]

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