Bureau of Land Management National Park Service US Fish and Wildlife Service US Forest Service

Horsepasture River, North Carolina

Managing Agency:

U.S. Forest Service, Nantahala National Forest


Designated Reach:

October 26, 1986. From Bohaynee Road (N.C. 281) downstream to Lake Jocassee.


Classification/Mileage:

Scenic — 3.6 miles; Recreational — 0.6 miles; Total — 4.2 miles.

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Horsepasture River

At 4.2 miles, the designated segment of the Horsepasture is one of the shortest rivers in the National System in the continental United States. Cascading out of North Carolina's rugged forests, it is an exceptional example of an escarpment river with five major waterfalls within two miles and numerous cascades, rapids, boulders, and rock outcroppings. Rainbow Falls is the largest of the five falls along the river's course, with a vertical drop of approximately 125 feet. The falling water generates a great deal of spray and a rainbow can be seen when the sun is at the proper angle. The view downstream from the top of the falls is panoramic. A hiking trail that can be accessed from national forest land provides excellent viewing opportunities. Please respect private property and only use this access point.