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Panther Creek Trail: Hiking to Panther Creek Falls

Hike or backpack to Panther Creek Falls, one of Georgia’s most beautiful and popular waterfalls, on the 7 mile Panther Creek Trail.

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. And please preserve Panther Creek’s beauty: pack out everything you pack in and leave no trace.

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

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, crossing a small tributary creek at .45 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 hikes past several just-off-trail campsites before reaching a massive rock outcrop overhang at .85 mile. Heavy hiking traffic has heavily eroded this section of the trail, causing it to be rerouted, and green blazes mark the current trail.

Hiking the Panther Creek Falls trail in North Georgia

The Panther Creek Trail climbs elevation and then descends, trailing through a wooded area high above the creek valley. Several smaller, out-of-sight waterfalls on Panther Creek roar audibly below the trail. The hike drops elevation to approach the creek, flowing serenely beside a large campsite, before crossing Panther creek via a wooden bridge at 1.4 miles.

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

The hike trails a flat, sandy floodplain of the creek, crossing the first of many tributaries flowing into Panther Creek at 2 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.

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

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 elevation over another large rock outcrop.

The trail reaches the beautiful, multi-cascading waterfalls of Upper Panther Creek Falls at 3.4 miles. The creek’s small cascades flow over the wide, tiered rock outcrop, pooling before dropping toward the immense lower falls downstream.

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

The trail hikes across an immense rock outcrop, sharply dropping elevation to reach the Panther Creek Falls waterfall at 3.45 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 6.9 miles.

 

Parking

$4 (cash, daily)

GPS Coordinates

34.698950, -83.419967 (N34 41.937 W83 25.198)

Driving Directions

 
     

Panther Creek Trail Map

 

Panther Creek Trail Elevation Profile

Panther Creek Trail to Panther Creek Falls: Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, kayak and cycle Georgia’s beautiful outdoors.

Eric is the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, an online magazine that reviews the best hiking trails, running trails and outdoor adventures throughout Georgia.
 
 
 
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