Panther Creek Falls

by Sydney Ryanczak

Hike Name: Panther Creek Falls

  • Date Hiked: March 18, 2018
  • Fellow Hikers: Sydney and Scott
  • Distance: 6 mi
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Type: N/A

Scott and I recently hiked Panther Creek Falls near Toccoa, GA.  It was a beautiful day.  Sunny and cool.   Scott and I first ate breakfast at our favorite little breakfast place near the house, Reveille, where we gorged ourselves on french toast and pancakes and then we were off to the mountains!

The trailhead is about an hour and a half away from our house.   There is a parking and picnic area to the left (parking is $4) and cars can also park along the street (parking here is free).  Get there early or parking could be a problem on pretty days!

 

 

Where We Went

Panther Creek is part of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest and is maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture.  It is an intermediate level trail with some tricky to climb rocks and cliffs that you could definitely fall off of. Yikes!  Dogs are welcomed and in fact, they handled the terrain better than I did!  Must be their low center of gravity and not because I’m old.  That’s what I told myself anyway.  Shhh!  The entire trail is almost 7 miles long but the falls themselves are approximately 3.5 miles in.  Don’t mistake the shoals that are at the 2.5 mile mark as the falls.  They make a good preview of the real deal another mile down.

The trail is very well maintained and people do a relatively good job at leaving no trace although I did see a few water bottles thrown about.  Campsites are all along the trail but none of them offer any facilities.  They are very primitive so if you want to camp, be sure to bring all your gear including your poop scoop!

 

 

Scott and I took our time and spent all day on the trail.  We brought our hammock and chilled out at the shoals twice…once on the way to the falls and once on the way back.  We almost fell asleep the second time…it was so peaceful with the rushing water as our natural noise machine.  We brought snacks and took a lot of photos.  There are some really cool boulders that overhung the trail (at about the 1-mile mark) that make perfect photo opportunities.

 

The last 1/2 mile or so to the waterfall was tough.  It’s very rocky and had lots of uneven ground.  Small children and the elderly wouldn’t be able to navigate it very well.  But for Scott and I, we were ready for the challenge!  I fell on my butt only once! The waterfall itself is pretty big and full!  It was beautiful.  The viewing area in front of the waterfall was sandy and flat.  It even has a small beach!  I’m guessing that during the summer it’s a popular swimming spot.  The dogs there were loving it.  Folks let their dogs off leash and let them go buck wild in the water.  It was super cute.

What Gear We Brought

We brought way more than we used so I’ll note what we did not need with a * but this is our typical day hiker packing list:

I brought my Camelback Helena backpack with the following items:

Scott brought the Osprey Radial 35 backpack with the following items:

What We Wore

 

 

The morning started out chilly but after lunchtime, it was over 70 degrees (in March).  The path is pretty well defined so I think shorts would be safe during warm months without too much fear of ticks.  I would still consider bug spray if you do go off the beaten path.

I wore:

Scott wore:

 

 

If you get the chance, I highly recommend visiting Panther Creek Falls for a challenging 7-mile hike!  It’s definitely worth a visit and is one of my top waterfall hikes of all time!

Panther Creek Falls, Old Historic U.S.441, Clarkesville, GA 30523.

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