Only a 20 minute drive from Sapphire Valley and the Cashiers crossroads, Panthertown Valley is a treat for hikers visiting the mountains in the state of North Carolina, as it contains a curious mixture of threatened and endangered species and natural communities.
Panthertown is distinguished by its broad flat valley floor flanked by granite cliffs abruptly rising 200 to 300 feet. These granite domes with exposed rock are uncommon in the southern Appalachians and offer spectacular open vistas.
The unusually flat valley is home to at least 11 different natural communities, including the rare southern Appalachian bog and the swamp forest-bog community. These communities harbor numerous rare plants, such as Cuthbert's turtle head, Canada burnet, marsh bellflower, climbing fern, and spinulose wood fern. The headwaters of the East Fork of the Tuckasegee River and 20 miles of native brook trout streams, including Panthertown, Greenland, and Flat Creeks, are located in Panthertown Valley.
Hiking on the old logging roads of Panthertown is a good way to familiarize yourself with this large scenic valley. A network of hiking trails will lead you to waterfalls and spectacular overlooks of the valley, its cliff faces, and bogs. The waterfalls have a wet micro climate supporting the highest concentration of rare plants in the valley.
Please be aware that there are many sensitive areas in Panthertown Valley. Hikers can lessen their impact by staying on designated trails. The rare ferns, mosses, and liverworts near the waterfalls are easily scraped off the rocks when visitors walk behind the falls. For this reason, the U.S. Forest Service encourages visitors to view the falls from below.
Primitive overnight camping and catch-and-release fishing are allowed in Panthertown, so you can spend a full weekend in this wild area.
There are several entrances to Panthertown Valley, but the most accessible route is as follows: Approximately two miles east of Cashiers on US 64, turn left or north on Cedar Creek Road (SR 1120). Continue on Cedar Creek Road 2.2 miles. Bear right or northeast on Nicholson Lane (SR 1121). Continue 3.4 miles on SR 1121 to a flat parking area at a gap where the National Forest boundary begins. The access road from the gap makes an excellent foot travel path. No motor vehicles are allowed beyond this point.
Support the Friends of Panthertown!
The mission of the Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the USDA Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley.
Some Content,Images and Trail Map Courtesy: Friends of Panthertown
Panthertown Trail Map