Open to the Public
Hiking / Catch & Release Fishing / Primitive Camping / Wildflowers / Rare Plants View All
This property is managed as part of Nantahala National Forest. View All
Southern Appalachian Mountains
Jackson, Macon, and Transylvania Counties
SIZE IN ACRES:
INVOLVEMENT IN ACRES:
Big Ridge, Lake Toxaway
Topographical maps are available by contacting:
NC Geographical Survey.
1612 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1612.
OWNERSHIP & ACCESS:
Nantahala National Forest
Highlands Ranger District
2010 Flat Mountain Road
Highlands, NC 28741
The Forest Service office can provide maps.
In 1989 the North Carolina Chapter purchased this 6,295-acre tract in the southwestern part of the state from Duke Power Company for $8 million as an addition to Nantahala National Forest. Panthertown Valley is located in a very popular vacation home and resort area in the North Carolina mountains, so it was unusual to find such a large piece of land under single ownership.
Panthertown Valley is a treat for hikers, 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 turtlehead, 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 microclimate 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.
For a pdf document on Nantahala click here.
Hiking / Catch & Release Fishing / Primitive Camping / Wildflowers / Rare Plants
Please stay on the hiking trails to protect the rare plants.
Contact the Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala Ranger Station
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
Information is available here in the form of a pdf document. And here is the main page for National Forests in NC.
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.