Panther Creek Falls Trail

Panther Creek Falls Trail

Hike or backpack to Panther Creek Falls, one of North Georgia’s most beautiful and popular waterfalls, and explore a lush stretch of the Chattahoochee National Forest.

trail info

TRAIL LOCATION: Chattahoochee National Forest near Tallulah Gorge

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite day hike gear and Canon 6D DSLR

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 778 Trails Illustrated Map

It’s one of North Georgia’s favorite waterfall hikes, and for a good reason: this 7-mile adventure travels to a series of cascading falls set in a beautiful forest, framed by towering trees and mossy boulders. This adventure hikes to Panther Creek Falls, a series of broad, multi-tiered waterfalls that tumble into a deep pool on a sandy beach.

Hiking Panther Creek: one of Georgia's most beautiful & popular waterfalls

The level, sandy flat below the waterfall is the perfect summertime spot to chill and to soak up some seriously beautiful North Georgia beauty. And the trail is studded with campsites along the way, making this hike one of North Georgia’s most popular backpacking trips. (All campsites are first-come, first camp, so be sure to arrive very early on fair-weather weekends. Please camp only in existing campsites, please pack out everything you pack in, and leave no trace.)

Panther Creek Falls: the hike

The adventure departs from the opposite side of Historic 441 from the Panther Creek picnic area (view maps and driving directions). The hike follows its namesake waterway downstream, traveling under a concrete overpass and diving into a young, mossy hardwood forest. The route ventures deeper into the forest and the sounds of the highway disappear in the distance. The trail crosses a small tributary creek at just under .5 mile.

The trail begins to climb elevation, catching views of the cascading creek far below as it travels through a clearing. The creek’s turbulent roar echoes through the forest as it tumbles over several just-out-of-sight waterfalls. The trail passes several just-off-trail campsites before reaching a massive rock outcrop overhang at .85 mile. Due to heavy trail traffic, erosion has closed some sections of the trail recently; follow the green trail blazes for the current route.

Hiking the Panther Creek Falls trail in North Georgia

The trail rolls elevation, traversing a wooded area high above the creek valley. The hike descends to the creek’s banks, passing a large campsite and crossing Panther Creek over a large wooden bridge at 1.5 miles.

The Panther Creek Trail follows the mossy, tumbling Panther Creek in North Georgia

The trail explores a flat, sandy floodplain on the western shore, crossing the first of many small tributaries at 2 miles. The hike crosses another bridge and passes a large campsite, climbing elevation and rising high above the creek. Over the next mile, sections of the trail drop sharply and suddenly to the creek below, and the trail is extremely narrow.

The hike to the Panther Creek waterfall crosses several dangerous sections of dropoffs along the trail

At 2.25 miles, the trail veers left at a fork and reaches a series of tumbling waterfalls soon after. The route scrambles over several massive, chiseled rock outcrops and makes several more tributary crossings, nearing the large waterfall downstream.

The trail reaches the beautiful, multi-tiered waterfalls of Upper Panther Creek Falls at 3.4 miles. Small cascades flow over a wide, tiered rock outcrop, pooling along banks filled with tall grasses and wildflowers.

The lower Panther Creek falls, flowing in small cascades over a large rock outcrop

The hike crosses an enormous rock outcrop and descends to the base of Panther Creek Falls, reaching the towering waterfall’s sandy shores at 3.5 miles. Large, tumbled boulders line the creek’s sandy shoreline and make a great resting spot for viewing the beautiful, roaring tumbling waterfall.

Hiking Panther Creek: one of Georgia's most beautiful & popular waterfalls

After soaking up some scenic North Georgia beauty, the hike departs the falls, following the outbound route in reverse. The hike reaches the Panther Creek Trailhead at 7 miles, completing the adventure.

More adventure on the Panther Creek Trail

There’s an alternate, though much more difficult, approach to this waterfall from the trail’s eastern trailhead near Yonah Dam. The eastern trailhead offers a shorter route to the falls, but it’s a much more remote and strenuous hike.

Watch our Panther Creek Trail video on YouTube

Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.

Panther Creek Falls Trail: Directions & Details

Parking

Parking at the trailhead is $4 (cash, daily).

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, don't rely on a cell phone signal to find your way, and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

34.698950, -83.419967     //     N34 41.937 W83 25.198

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Panther Creek Falls Trail Elevation Profile

Panther Creek Falls Trail Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.