Hike or backpack the Panther Creek Trail 7 miles roundtrip to one Georgia’s most popular and beautiful waterfalls, Panther Creek Falls.
The popular Panther Creek Trail spans 3.5 miles along a series of beautiful waterfalls on North Georgia’s Panther Creek. 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.
The level, sandy flat surrounding Panther Creek Falls is perfect for camping, offering dreams under the stars with a soundtrack of rushing water. And the Panther Creek Trail is studded with campsites along its journey to the falls, making the hike a popular Georgia backpacking destination. (All sites are first-come, first-camp. Hint: arrive very early on fair-weather weekends for a good campsite.)
The Panther Creek Trail 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 Panther Creek Trail climbs elevation, leaving the falling creek below as it travels through a clearing. The creek rushes audibly, falling through several just-out-of-sight waterfalls. The trail reaches a large campsite at .6 mile before approaching a massive rock outcrop overhang at .85 mile. Heavy hiking traffic has heavily eroded this section of the trail, causing it to be rerouted. Green blazes mark the current trail.
The Panther Creek Trail 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 trail crosses another bridge at 2.1 miles before passing a large campsite, grabbing elevation and rising high above the creek below. Trail erosion over the next mile has caused several trail sections to drop sharply and suddenly to the creek below, demanding extra caution on this section of the hike.
At 2.25 miles, the Panther Creek Trail turns left at a fork, traveling toward the the creek’s banks. Panther Creek meets a series of waterfalls at 2.35 miles, the trail scrambling over a large rock outcrop. The hike crosses a small bridge over a side creek before rising to climb a massive, chiseled rock outcrop. The trail crosses another creek via stepping stones before climbing another large rock outcrop at 3.3 miles.
The trail reaches the beautiful upper waterfall of Panther Creek Falls 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 hikes across immense rock outcrop, dropping elevation to reach the Panther Creek Falls waterfall at 3.52 miles. Large, tumbled boulders line the creek’s sandy shoreline – a great resting spot for viewing the beautiful, roaring Panther Creek Falls.
The hike departs the falls, backtracking to retrace the Panther Creek Trail to the trailhead and completing the hike at 7 miles.
$4 (cash, daily)
34.698950, -83.419967 (N34 41.937 W83 25.198)