(note the map will be within .5 miles of trailhead)
|From Panther Creek...|
I hadn’t been out on a serious hike yet in 2008 and I had a Saturday off coming up, which doesn’t happen all the time. And I was all set to trek up a mountain. But it rained and rained on the Thursday and Friday before, so my plans had to change.
Rain means three things to the Georgia trail walker: First, we need it here in Georgia, there’s no sense cursing the rain because it means we might be able to wash our cars and water our lawns this year. So, you have to look at the plus side. Which brings us to number two, it makes our hundred odd waterfalls crackle with life. So I scrapped my mountain hike in search of majestic waterfalls. I wanted to combine the two, so one of my stops was Panther Creek Falls in Rabun County. The third is simply that you have to prepare for mud and bad footing, but we know that sometimes that’s exactly what brings excitement, challenge and fun to our outdoor excursions.
Panther Creek is accessible to the public after about a two mile trek from the side of a dirt road on Yonah Dam Road (there is a western entrance at the Panther Creek Recreational Area that is a touch longer and may have parking fees). The trailhead is unmarked but looks like the picture included below. It starts out simple and rather plain for about a mile, but at the point where the trail seem to end, it actually turns 90 degrees to the left and down. From that point it becomes a moderate hike for about a mile (but remember the walkout is up and going to be strenuous). You will also have to climb along rocks and boulders, with some spots having metal wired fences for your assistance and protection. It is a small test of your mind and body, but effort like this makes the completion all the more satisfying.
You first see the shoals along the creek and they are pretty in there own right, kind of reminiscent of what the small falls look like at Sweetwater Creek State Park. You can stop for a minute to enjoy the view and the pleasant symphonies of hurtling water. But if you continue on another 300 yards, you will see the more dramatic Panther Creek Falls (Angel Falls, I understand, is about another half mile beyond these, but I unfortunately did not know to press further on).
The falls stand about 50 feet in height and make for an awe-inspiring spectacle. There is a nice place to sit and view the falls and on the day we went there were 15 or 20 folks with the same idea for the day as me. Many of them were children and they brought along their dogs, which made me feel like my accomplishment wasn’t of the grand achievement I first detailed. I bring it up so as to encourage you to see these for yourself. There are no do not cross signs or don’t go there signs, so you can utilize your own discretion and courage to get as close and as wet as you’d like. There is some danger there, so I suggest some extreme caution, nonetheless.
As part of a grand day of Falls-Gazing, I must mentions there are several others close by. Two of note are the Tallulah Gorge about three miles North of the Trailhead, and the majestic Minnehaha Falls about 10 miles to the Northeast.
Rain means a lot to Georgians, so try not to think about it as ruining your day outside. Consider it Nature loading the cannons to bring one the grand fireworks that our waterfalls create to wow the heartier spectator.
Approximate Time: 2-3 hours
Approximate Distance: 3.25 miles out and back
Trail Surface: Compact Soil, Rocks, Wetfoot crossings, some pathway needs use of Hands.
Features: Cascades, River Views, Riverside Walks, Shoals, Grand Waterfalls,
Overall Rating: A
Scenic Quality: A-
Parking: Free (Feb 2008)
Hours of Operation: Open Year Round, Sunlight Hours
Maps: None, some blazes after descent, some fencing to let you know your on the right track.
County: Rabun (I’ve seen it marked as Habersham also)
Directions: Exit 16, I-285, South on Riverside. Turn right on Mount Vernon, then left on Northside Drive. Right on Indian Trail and enter the park.