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Hikes n' Climbs Panthertown Valley, NC
 

Panthertown Valley, NC Panthertown Valley, NC Hot

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Panthertown Valley, NC

Hike/Site Details

Hike Type
Trail Type
Choose your own path
Skill Level
Moderate
Duration
Full Day
Trailhead
Parking Area is on the east or west side of the wilderness area from Cashiers, NC

EAST Parking Directions:

From Cashiers, NC take U.S. Hwy-64 East towards Brevard or Asheville, NC for 12.7 miles to the junction of NC Hwy-281 and U.S. Hwy-64. Take NC Hwy-281 North for 3.6 miles to "Cold Mountain Road" on your left (just past Lake Toxaway Fire House on the right). After taking the left onto Cold Mountain Road, continue along the twisting turns as you work past numerous lake homes and their drives and up the mountain. At 5.6 miles since you left NC Hwy-281 you'll see private property and a gated drive on the right, avoid this. To the left and uphill is the gravel access road to the valley, here is where you'll see the sign for Panthertown Valley. This will be the first sign of any sort you will see for the valley. After approx. 0.1/0.2 mile up the gravel road, it will fork again. Take the right and onto the access road to the East Parking Area. Note: This road had a large mud puddle in the middle of it the last time I was there. I had to park my car to the side and walk the short distance to the main parking area, about 0.1 mile. No problem.

From Asheville, NC take U.S. Hwy-64 West toward Brevard, Cashiers, Lake Toxaway. Nearing Lake Toxaway take N.C. Hwy-281 North (on your right) for 3.6 miles to "Cold Mountain Road" on your left (just past Lake Toxaway Fire House on the right). After taking the left onto Cold Mountain Road, continue along the twisting turns as you work past numerous lake homes and their drives and up the mountain. At 5.6 miles since you left NC Hwy-281 you'll see private property and a gated drive on the right, avoid this. To the left and uphill is the gravel access road to the valley, here is where you'll see the sign for Panthertown Valley. This will be the first sign of any sort you will see for the valley. After approx. 0.1/0.2 mile up the gravel road, it will fork again. Take the right and onto the access road to the East Parking Area. Note: This road had a large mud puddle in the middle of it the last time I was there. I had to park my car to the side and walk the short distance to the main parking area, about 0.1 mile. No problem.

Location

State

Geographic Location

Latitude
35.16
Longitude
-83.02

 

One of the most unique and unusual locations can be found in western NC, near the city of Cashiers. Many people aren't aware of it, and it's diversity isn't limited to spectacular water falls, granite domes, vegetation that reminds me of Central American rainforest, high mountain bogs and rushing mountain creeks. Panthertown Valley is a must see.

Having just recently discovered this location thanks to a friend we ran into over at Linville Gorge, Rudy, now deciding to do a 10 mile loop hike in his 5 toes shoes, something I presume he will write a review on in the future, we then took the opportunity to see what Panther Creek had to offer. Interestingly enough, the whole area seems almost hidden when at least approaching from the West entrance.

 

Arriving in the evening, we started our climb up Salt Rock, and were quickly greeted by some mildly interesting views from Salt Rock. 30 more minutes of hiking produced a spectacular view from Black Rock Mountain, which is one of a series of Granite plutons found in the area. If you're familiar with Stone Mountain park in Atlanta, you'll really enjoy the unspoiled wilderness that Panthertown Valley offers.

 

There were a number of spur trails that likely lead to some camp sites along the trail, and perhaps close to the edges of the granite domes around Blackrock, but we didn't take time to explore them this night. After departing the Blackrock summit, we decended into some rather uninspiring and typical terrain and vegetation, while stumbling right over the top of a Yellow jacket burrow right on the trail near the power line crossing. Since it was late evening they were quiet and didn't disturb us and we sure didn't bother them as that would make for a rather annoying weekend completely covered in welts.

 

Pushing forward, Rudy and I arrived at Greenland Creek at the Riding Ford crossing and setup camp in the thick rhododendrons. I quickly setup my Eureka Apex tent, which is a fantastic tent, although a bit heavy for my tastes having the fiberglass poles, but still weighing in at around 5 pounds. Rudy in his REI Half-Dome, which is somewhat superior in my opinion as a result of the aluminum poles and lighter composition set up his tent. We walked down to Riding Ford to get water for our evening camp and were greeted by two very long-bearded Appalachian looking gentleman hanging out in the river.

 

Now I'll admit, my first thought really was..... "Boy, you sure do got a purty mouth...Squeal like a pig boy!.". Remembering that famous line from "Deliverance". Now I do feel a bit guilty even mentioning that after a few minutes of chatting with the two gentleman who later introduced themselves as "Matt and Alan" from Roanoke and Marietta, Ga respectively. Alan on his "bachelor party" and marrying within the next few weeks showed such generosity by even sharing the last two beers they had with us.

 

After throwing the dog in the creek, and filtering our water with our Steripen and mechanical filters, we ate and were greeted by a thunderstorm that seemed to go on most of the night. As stated in the Eureka tent Instructions, it would be necessary to seal some seams, something which Rudy reportedly didn't have to do with his REI Half-Dome. Yep, my tent leaked, but not excessively.

 

Day 2, brought the rather delightful Schoolhouse falls, which is a remarkably beautiful place, with the opportunity to take a shower and a swim under the falls. Be careful not to step on the greenery under the falls however, as some of the plants in the area are endangered. A subsequent climb to the top of the very close Little Green Mountain produced some of the most uniquely epic, camp sites I've ever seen, and the best view in the whole area. We camped right on the slope of Little Green and were greeted by the most spectacular cloud shows and the clearest starry sky in memory. Definitely recommend this spot if you can get it.

 

Day 3 brought a hike out, through Panthertown Creek Valley in front of the monolithic wall of Big Green Mountain. This wall is a must see at 1.6 miles in length and a consistent 400ft tall. Many come here for rock climbing but that wasn't on our radar today. The hike back to the car through Deep Gap and by Wilderness Falls was unlike anything I have seen outside of the Peten Jungle of Guatemala. Thick rhododendrons, strange alien looking roots growing high, like mangroves out of thick rich, deep mud, this for me was a tremendous highlight! The final push was climbing the flank of Wilderness falls which was 60 degrees in angle at times and was quite the climb out while maintaining this spectacular jungle feel. Very interesting indeed. Panthertown indefinitely on my favorite list for the SE US and indefinitely recommend a visit if you get the chance, you won't regret this trip.

 

 

EAST ENTRANCE HIGHLIGHTS

  • One of two main entrances to Panthertown Valley
  • Closest access (or shortest hiking distance) to the popular "Shoolhouse Falls"
  • Direct trail access for Hiking or Mountain Bike:  Mac's Gap Trail #482Panthertown Valley Trail #474 East & Greenland Creek Trail #488 (Hiking Only)
  • Panthertown Valley is a multi-use (Hike, Horse or Bike) area that offers some of the best backcountry activities around
  • Best entrance to the valley for folks coming from Asheville/East

THE LOCAL SCOOP

We recommend the "East Parking Area for Panthertown Valley" for folks that might be coming in from Asheville (or anywhere East of that) via U.S. Hwy-64.  Also, we would like to suggest using this area for access to the popular Schoolhouse Falls.  Schoolhouse Falls offer a very large pool for swimming or fishing in, a nice beach area for lounging or if you would like to venture behind the falls for a truly unique view, we recommend it!  
This parking area also offers immediate trail access to Mac's Gap Trail #482, Panthertown Valley Trail #474 or Greenland Creek Trail #488.  As mentioned in the highlights portion, the Greenland Creek Trail is only accessible by hike, no horses or bikes permitted.  The Mac's Gap Trail is open for biking and hiking.  This is the first trail you'll notice on the left when turning into the parking area.  This trail runs along the southern portion of the valley and in between Big Green Mountain and Little Green Mountain.  The Panthertown Valley Trail will take you through the heart of the valley and shares the creek bank with the Panthertown Creek for approx. 0.6 mile, offering a nice sandbar along the way for relaxing by the creek.  Pick this trail up at the far right end of the parking area (same side as the info kiosk). The Greenland Creek Trail starts at the old iron gate at the end of the East parking area and heads down towards Greenland Creek.  At 0.4 mile into your hike you'll notice Greenland Creek down and to your right, where "Mac's Falls" and "Pothole Falls" are located.  I will have more info on these two falls soon.
Note:  You can take either Greenland Creek Trail or Mac's Gap Trail from the East parking area to reach Greenland Creek Falls.  The trails merge once you reach the creek, with Mac's Gap Trail continuing for a short distance along the creek, then crossing the creek and continuing on through the valley.  
There is another set of falls, "Carlton Falls" on up stream from Greenland Creek.  You will have to access the "unofficial" trail to access these falls though.  This trail is located to the left of the base of Greenland Creek Falls and will take you approx. 30 minutes to get there.  More info on both Greenland Creek Falls & Carlton Falls to come soon.
For more information on hiking/biking/horseback riding trails, waterfalls, backcountry camping, fishing in this area, visit ourPanthertown Valley "Places of Interest" page.

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Panthertown Valley, NC
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User reviews

Average user rating from: 1 user(s)

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Overall rating 
 
4.0
Trail Conditions 
 
3.0  (1)
Camp Sites 
 
5.0  (1)
Water Availability 
 
5.0  (1)
Scenery 
 
5.0  (1)
Big Nuts Tilt 
 
3.0  (1)
 
Panthertown Valley, NC 2011-08-30 14:40:27 Shane Lewis
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Trail Conditions 
 
3.0
Camp Sites 
 
5.0
Water Availability 
 
5.0
Scenery 
 
5.0
Big Nuts Tilt 
 
3.0
Reviewed by Shane Lewis    August 30, 2011
Last updated: February 18, 2012
#1 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews

Great Place

Can't wait to go back.

Review

Good Points
Loved the view and the diversity of the environment
Bad Points
Trails are unmarked but largely in good condition.
Do you recommend?
Yes
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