Cohutta Wilderness - Panther Creek Falls

I was joined on today’s day hike by Chris and Dereck. We drove up to the Cohutta Wilderness this morning. The Cohutta Wilderness is very remote and can be very wild. Because of its remoteness, you have to be very careful.

I’ve hiked to Panther Creek Falls before, but Chris and Dereck haven’t. On a previous trip to the Cohuttas, we got within a mile or two of the falls before having to turn around because a river we had to cross was too high to do so safely. When you’re an hour’s drive on a forrest service road from the nearest civilization, you don’t take risks.

Chris and Dereck really wanted to see the falls, so today we hiked in from above the falls. Approaching from upstream, we wouldn’t have to cross any large rivers.

We parked the truck and hiked in on the East Cowpen Trail, then turned off onto the Panther Creek Trail. This trail loses some serious elevation, so we knew our lungs would be screaming at us as he climbed back up the trail on the way out.

The trail crossed Panther Creek a couple of times, and we lost the trail in a couple of places. We were able to bushwhack and meet back up with the trail.

I had previously only hiked to the falls from downstream, so hiking up to the top of the falls was cool. As we approached the falls, you could see out over the Cohuttas.

Near the falls, there were icicles that were over 6 feet long hanging from a cliff, as well as ice on all the limbs hanging near the creek.

While we ate lunch, Chris climbed down to the bottom of the 85 foot tall falls. Because I have been down there before, I was perfectly fine with sitting on top and eating lunch.

As expected, the hike out Panther Creek Trail was strenuous. It was so steep that at times your knees were up in your face with every step. Let’s be glad there was no reason to run from anything, because there was no way we were going to be running up that trail.

It was a chilly day, but any day spent exploring the Cohutta Wilderiness is a good day.

More photos on Flickr.