The 7,500-acre Gorges State Park is one of the newest in the N.C. park system - established in 1999 - and many of its facilities are still being development. It provides excellent opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, boating and camping.
It is located in Transylvania County and borders South Carolina. Gorges is North Carolina's westernmost state park.
From Charlotte, Gorges State Park is approximately 150 miles (about a three-hour drive).
To see and do
The park's most popular trail, going to Rainbow Falls, actually leads out of the park and into the Pisgah National Forest. After three-fourths of a mile - mostly downhill - the trail crosses over the park boundary and continues a similar distance - mostly uphill - to Rainbow Falls. The path is well-shaded but definitely strenuous. Less than a quarter-mile beyond the picturesque Rainbow Falls is Turtleback Falls, less photogenic but equally popular. The Bearwallow Valley Overlook Trail is self-descriptive - the moderately difficult half-mile path leads to one of the highest points in the park. The overlook, 3,200 feet above sea level, provides views of the valley as well as lakes Jocassee and Keowee. Another half-mile trail, rated strenuous, leads to Upper Bearwallow Falls, a 200-foot cascade.
All three of these trails are located in the Grassy Ridge Access Area in the western section of the park. The Frozen Creek Access Area, in the park's eastern section, is much more remote and features several longer trails that will appeal to more experienced hikers.
Bear Wallow Creek and Toxaway River flow through the park, providing some good fishing; rainbow trout and smallmouth bass are among the common catches. N.C. Wildlife regulations apply. Lake Jocassee straddles the state line and boat access is located at Devil's Fork State Park in South Carolina. Primitive camping is offered in several areas of the park.