Welcome Valley Village is only 3.7 miles from Ocoee Dam 1, a favorite put-in for paddle boards, tubers, and casual kayakers. Guests love the lazy river float with three easy pullouts along the Village’s property line. But did you know that just past the dam in Cherokee National Forest, there are two stunning and accessible waterfalls: Rainbow Falls and Benton Falls?

Benton Falls

Benton Falls is a 65-foot cascading waterfall. Like all major falls in Tennessee, the experience changes by the season. Typically, Winter and Spring are very wet in Southeast Tennessee, so you will likely find the falls aggressive. However, late summer and fall tend to dry up around these parts. Consequently, many of the hundreds of waterfalls in Eastern Tennessee can turn into a cautious stream spilling over the edge.‍

Benton falls trailhead

McCamy Lake is at the trailhead to Benton Falls. This popular swimming lake has a well-kept beach by the Chilhowee campground. On your way up, be sure to pull over at the overlooks and snap some pictures. The views over Ocoee and Parksville lakes are simply breathtaking! In the summer, be sure to hike in your swimwear in case you want to take a dip in McCamey Lake or simply shower in the cascading Benton Falls.

Hiking to Benton Falls

The hike to Benton Falls is an easy three-mile out-and-back hike, most commonly starting at McCamy Lake atop Sugarloaf Mountain.  The trail is rated moderate, which to us means bringing the kiddos!

Rainbow Falls, Cherokee National Forest | Reliance, Tennessee

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is a powerful 70-foot waterfall just 10 minutes from Welcome Valley Village. If you head east on 64 towards Ocoee Lake, you’ll find Highway 30 to your left. This narrow and winding road leads to Reliance, TN. As soon as you turn off from 64, you’ll come across a large parking lot for the Clemmer Trailhead on your left.

lower rainbow falls in the cherokee national forest
Lower Rainbow Falls, Cherokee National Forest | Reliance, Tennessee

Hiking to Rainbow Falls

While you can wander many ways along this trail network, our favorite hike follows Rock  Creek up to Rainbow Falls.  Remember that you hike in waterproof boots or durable sandals, as you must cross the creek twice.  While you can cross without dipping your feet into the cool water, a little slip is easy enough to make.

I took my ten-year-old twins, and they had no trouble with the hike at any point. However, our little miniature poodle Neymar could not make the second creek crossing, so he stayed behind with our daughter.  The hike is suitable for dogs from medium to large, and most folks seem to bring them along. However, those tiny lap dogs will need to be carried some of the way.‍

Follow the signs to the waterfalls. It is about 1.7 miles up a gentle climb to the first cascade and barreling pinch below Rainbow Falls. Make sure you don’t stop at the first series of falls—the trail leads around the bluff to the top of the small funnel fall to the base of Rainbow Falls.

 

There are several wonderful blue swimming holes, so, again, in the summer, come dressed to enjoy all the experience has to offer.  Rainbow Falls is a 70’ waterfall, and like Benton Falls, is as much a cascade as it is a fall. However, this little stretch of the Cherokee National Forest is filled with wonderful boulders, falls, cascades, and blue holes!

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welcome valley village

ocoee, tn

Step back in time on this this beautiful 17 acre property has over 900 feet of riverfront on the legendary Ocoee River. With six rustic cabins, three covered pioneer wagons, as well as a beautiful riverside pavilion for gatherings Welcome Valley is the prefect place to gather with friends and family, or take some tie for yourself. Situated on the river and close to Cherokee National Forest, there is no finer place to stay as you explore the region.