After exploring the falls from the front, continue on the trail up river and look for an opening to the left to walk out on huge boulders just above the falls. When the river is not too high, there is plenty of room to explore, peeking over the top of the falls down the gorge, and looking up river to Turtleback Falls.
Continue up river about 1/3 mile to Turtleback Falls, a 20-foot drop over a curved rockface into a pool that can have strong currents. At lower water levels, it's a popular spot to go sliding and swimming. You should be a good swimmer, since there are no lifeguards. The rocks and currents can make it dangerous if inexperienced. Do not attempt to slide when water is high, since the rushing water can take you down river over Rainbow Falls. There are several great vantage points to enjoy the falls - and the people sliding.
Walk another 1/2 mile (keep left at the trail fork - the right fork will take you to the NC Highway 281 entrance) to Drift Falls, a beautiful 80-foot rock slide. However, the Falls are just past the National Forest boundary and on private property. At the end of the trail, you can enjoy a great view of the falls from a distance. But don't go past the "do not enter" signs. You can get a hefty fine if you are caught..
Return and walk back the same trail to reach your car at Gorges. Just eight miles from Gorges State Park is Whitewater Falls, the highest waterfall in the eastern USA.
Resources: Download a PDF of the official Park Map for Gorges State Park.
Enjoying the view after sliding down
Turtleback Falls. Find more swimming holes.
Also see: NC Waterfall Drives & Maps.