Hike this 7 mile roundtrip following the Panther Creek Trail to one Georgia’s most popular and beautiful waterfalls, Panther Creek Falls.
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The hugely popular Panther Creek trail travels to a series of beautiful waterfalls in north Georgia. This hike’s final destination, Panther Creek Falls, is a series of wide, multi-tiered waterfalls that spill into a serene, deep blue pool of water below. And the level, sandy flat surrounding the is perfect for camping, offering dreams under the stars with a backdrop soundtrack of rushing water, making the hike a prime Georgia backpacking destination. (If the prime, falls-side campsites are full, campsites line the 3.5 mile trail’s stretch to the waterfall, available to the first backpacker to grab them. Hint: arrive early on fair-weather weekends.)
The trailhead departs opposite the parking area on Historic 441 (view maps and driving directions), following Panther Creek downstream and traveling under the highway overpass. The trail dives into a young forest, the highway sounds disappearing behind, turning to rejoin Panther Creek at .25 mile before crossing a small side creek at .5 mile. The hike climbs elevation, leaving Panther Creek below as it travels through a clearing, the sound of the creek audibly rushing 50 feet below through several courses of waterfalls.
The trail reaches a large campsite at .6 mile before approaching a massive rock outcrop overhang at .85 mile. Hiker traffic has heavily eroded this section of the trail, causing it to be rerouted; green blazes mark the current trail.
The hike climbs elevation at 1 mile, trailing through a wooded area high above the creek valley. Several smaller, out-of-sight waterfalls on Panther Creek continue to roar audibly below the trail. The hike drops elevation to approach the creek, now flowing serenely, before crossing Panther creek via a large wooden bridge at 1.4 miles.
The hike trails a flat, sandy floodplain of the creek, crossing the first of many tributaries flowing into Panther Creek at 1.9 miles. The Panther Creek trail crosses another bridge at 2.1 miles before passing a large campsite, grabbing elevation and rising high above the creek below. Trail erosion has caused several section to drop sharply and suddenly to the creek below over the next mile – a dangerous pass that demands caution.
At 2.25 miles, the trail turns left at a fork, traveling toward the the creek’s banks. Panther Creek meets a set of small waterfalls at 2.35 miles, the trail scrambling over a large rock outcrop. The hike crosses a small bridge over a side creek at 2.75 miles, the trail rising to climb a massive, chiseled rock outcrop. The trail crosses another creek at 3.18 miles via stepping stones before climbing another rock outcrop at 3.26 miles.
The trail reaches the beautiful upper falls of Panther Creek at 3.43 miles. The creek’s small cascades flow over the wide, tiered rock outcrop, pooling before dropping toward the immense lower falls downstream.
The trail crosses the immense rock outcrop, dropping elevation to reach the lower falls at 3.52 miles. Large, tumbled boulders line a sandy flat – a great resting spot for viewing the beautiful, roaring Panther Creek Falls.
The hike departs the falls, backtracking towards the trailhead by retracing the Panther Creek trail towards the trailhead and parking area, tallying just over 7 miles in length.
Parking: $3 fee
34.698950, -83.419967 (N34 41.937 W83 25.198)
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