If you’re looking for adventure, Panthertown has it. Whether you want to take a stroll in the woods or go all out up and down mountains all day everyday for a backpacking trip, you will not be disappointed.
Part of the grand adventure is getting there. The first two times I went to Panthertown, someone else was driving and I was not paying attention, so I thought it was easy to get to. Calvin and I found ourselves turning around a few times to finally find the Salt Rock parking lot. It was my fault, because I didn’t pay attention to the directions I had taken a screenshot of. Word of advice: If you decide to venture out to Panthertown, look up directions beforehand when you have wifi and service, because you will be out of luck once you get close and are trying to figure out the right way to turn.
Despite getting lost we were still able to find some neat features that Panthertown has to offer. The first sight my friend and I came across was a view across the valley.
After that our hike lead us out to Granny Burrell Falls. Not large at all, but it was a nice place to stop and eat lunch. When you exit the trail to the spot, the falls will be on your left. To your right is what looked to be a good swimming hole.
We continued to hike because we knew there was more to be found. The next spot we came across was Frolictown Falls. At this point we were lost and just happened to stumble across it. It was a nice waterfall.
One of the things I noticed up there was how clear the water was. Being an angler my self just being able to look straight through it to the bottom was so beautiful. The only thing that could have made it better was to watch a little brook trout swim up.
After that we headed south towards Laurel Knob. We are not exactly sure how far we were supposed to go or if we made it to the top. The markers kept going so we kept going and we turned around after we started descending on the other side of the mountain. But that hike was pretty cool. There was a bridge made from this blue rope and a tree that had fallen.
One thing that my friend pointed out that she really liked, and has always liked, about Panthertown is the fact that it is almost like a fairy tale land. There is just so much to see and do. There seems to be something new around every corner.
I highly suggest Panthertown. It is a great place to make a one day adventure out of campus. Remember to take a friend and leave no trace.
Difficulty: Medium due to the fact that it is so hard to navigate.
Pros: Good places to climb, clean camp sights, not difficult terrain
Cons: Hard to navigate.
Directions from WCU to Salt Rock parking lot:
-Take US 64 East to Cashiers. (Don’t go towards Sylva)
-2 miles past the stoplight, turn LEFT on Cedar Creek Road. Pay attention! The turn is on a curve next to Glenville Lake, so you may be distracted.
-Cedar Creek Road turns right, so do not stay straight. Turn right and go up the gravel road. Eventually you will get to some Christmas tree farms and there will be a sign that says “Panthertown” on your left. Follow the sign and you will arrive at the parking lot shortly. There are lots of potholes and muddy spots so be careful and take a car with 4wd if you have one!
A word from Sam:
Plan ahead and prepare!
Bring a map if you can find one. It will be helpful. Also, there are plenty of apps that offer topographical maps. There is one called MotionX GPS ($2.99) that offers topographical maps so you don’t have to deal with crappy 3G coverage or no signal when you are in the middle of nowhere. Panthertown is known for people getting lost, so be prepared. Part of the adventure is getting lost; bring with you your tolerance for adversity and uncertainty. Your planned route is likely to end up in a different direction than you anticipated. Because of this factor, remember to always bring extra water, food, and layers, even if you think you are only going for a short half day hike.
There are countless trails in Panthertown that offer incredible views, sweet shelters, and waterfalls. It is highly recommended you stay on the marked trails. If it seems like the trail you are on is not maintained, that is a sign you should turn around.
Some of my favorite destinations in Panthertown include: Tranquility point (awesome and spacious view) and Schoolhouse Falls. Schoolhouse falls is awesome because you can get behind the waterfall and get splashed with rushing water. I am rarely impressed by waterfalls. Unless it’s huge, I don’t get much out of it. Although Schoolhouse Falls isn’t huge, nothing beats feeling like you are right there in the waterfall. It’s exhilarating and delightful.