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Panthertown January 9, 2012

Posted by Jenny in hiking, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: , , , ,

I like the color of the water in Panthertown as much as the plutons and the waterfalls

Three friends and I visited Panthertown to take advantage of a brief window of good weather between a cold snap and a rainy spell. And what a day it was for January, up into the 50s—but ice remained in many places from the week’s earlier weather.

Chris and Bethann and I were lucky to be joined by Seth, who is quite familiar with Panthertown—not to mention that the map he carried is the only good one of the area. I had printed a map off the internet that, as Seth put it, “you can’t read at all.” Oh well, details, details! And you really do need a good map to navigate all the unmarked manways, unless you enjoy a “trial and error” approach to route-finding.

Starting at the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead, we first went to Greenland Falls, which looked as icy as its namesake.

Greenland Falls

We had fun trying to decide which of the ice below the falls was safe to walk on. We went mainly by the different sound effects that the ice made when we stepped on it (which fortunately were not augmented at any point by the sound effects of a human being suddenly finding him- or herself neck-deep in frigid water).

Then on to the top of Big Green Mountain we climbed.

Looking across at the next pluton over. The ledge below us is called the Great Wall of Panthertown.

The only blemish on the horizon was the sight of a few giant McMansions perched on hilltops on the surrounding private property. All four of us had the same reaction: “Blow them up!” The shores of Lake Toxaway are ringed by pretentious gated developments. Perhaps a little tinkering with the dam would leave the whole stupid neighborhood on the shores of a gigantic mud hole.

Seth and Chris enjoy the view (except for the McMansions in the distance)

Bethann went down to the very brink of the Great Wall to get her view

I plan to come back when the myrtle is blooming.

Granny Burrell Falls

We visited a shelter with an unusual A-frame construction.

Maybe good shelter from rain, but not from wind!

Thus far we had avoided doing any wading, either by finding stepping stones or linking together strategically placed rhodo branches, but at this crossing we were finally forced to take our boots off. Bethann emitted cries of horror as her feet made contact with the cold water, whereas Chris crossed maintaining a manly silence.

Chris fords the stream.

Our next destination was a place intriguingly labeled as Frolictown. Perhaps panthers used to frolic there?

Frolictown Falls

We had some human frolickers. (My excuse for the blurry image is that they were frolicking so fast.)

On to Wilderness Falls, which is a little bit hard to see from the bottom. A thin ribbon of water comes down from the very top.

Wilderness Falls

We had good views of the main Panthertown valley.

Panthertown Valley

We climbed Little Green Mountain. There is an interesting shadowy gulch to the left of the smooth granite ledge.  From the top of it, we could see it might make a fun scrambling route.

Little Green Mountain

Our final objective was Schoolhouse Falls. Its setting, widening out into a beautiful tranquil pond, gives it an idyllic appearance, almost like an image from a dream.

Schoolhouse Falls

And so, with a final climb back up to the cars at Cold Mountain Gap, we concluded a lovely day’s outing.

Ice and pebble formation along edge of Schoolhouse pond



1. Ronnie McCall - January 9, 2012

Nice group to hike with,glad to see your working your knee and its withstanding,there is some elevation ups and downs in Panthertown.Great pictures and report

Jenny - January 10, 2012

Thanks Ronnie, hope to be back to the “serious stuff” pretty soon!

2. kaslkaos - January 10, 2012

Such a gorgeous picture essay. So many beautiful waterfalls in one place, and I love the description of sounding out the ice. Thanks for the virtual hike, from someone enduring a dissappointingly warm winter north of you.

3. brian - January 12, 2012

That looks like some intense frolicking you all were engaged in. Don’t injure yourselves. Chris gets some man points for crossing an icy stream barefoot in silence. I have a choice of unrestrained howling or pathetic suppressed whimpering. Usually I end up just going with the former.

Jenny - January 12, 2012

You notice I didn’t say anything about any sounds I might have emitted myself in the stream crossing!

4. AdamB - January 14, 2012

Great report Jenny. I wonder if Seth has ever fished those streams? Amanda and I are planning on going up Mt. Sterling in the morning. We shall see…

5. Gary - January 17, 2012

Souunds fun .. pretty pictures .. next you need a tape recorder for
crossing streams ..

Jenny - January 17, 2012

Great idea! I’ve been on a couple of hikes where the sound effects made by participants were a part of the show.

6. Dusty A. - January 20, 2012

Great report and pics Jenny! Let me know the next time you head back into the valley. With a total 9 years of living in both Brevard and Sylva, Panthertown and the surrounding area was always a favorite place and one of the few that I fell comfortable in saying I know like the back of my hand. There are definitely some fun off-trail locales in the valley. Burt Kornegay has a hair-raising story he tells about coming across a bobcat in that gulch you spotted on Little Green!

Jenny - January 20, 2012

Okay, we’re going to have to go look for its descendants!

7. Dusty A. - January 20, 2012

Adam-I have spent a lot of time in those streams and they fish well. Greenland and Panthertown Creeks unite in the valley to form the headwaters of the East Fork of the Tuckaseegee. It’s high enough in elevation that just about the only trout you will find are brookies. As Jenny alluded in the first pic, the water often has an enchanting yet funky color to it. It’s simply the natural tannins and actually very clean. It’s a great valley to base camp for a weekend with plenty of hiking, scrambling, and fishing options!

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