Posted by: panthertown | January 1, 2017

Welcome Friends!

Snowy Schoolhouse Falls Photo by Charles Hardin

Panthertown is located in western North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest.

The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley.

>> Our volunteers maintain 30 miles of public trails in this treasured backcountry.

>>  Our members support our conservation efforts through memberships donations.

Friends of Panthertown is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

Posted by: panthertown | November 8, 2016

Extreme Wildfire Risk – Forest Service Bans Campfires

Burn Ban In Effect - NO FIRES

UPDATE (December 6, 2016) – The U.S. Forest Service – National Forests in North Carolina has lifted fire restrictions on the Nantahala, Pisgah, and Uwharrie National Forests. Although campfires are allowed, visitors are asked to be careful with fire.

The U.S. Forest Service has issued an emergency campfire restriction for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in North Carolina.

The N.C. Forest Service has issued a burn ban for western North Carolina.

Panthertown Valley is at high risk for human caused wildfire.

No campfires are allowed in Panthertown until further notice.

Please be extremely vigilant to help protect our precious forests from additional wildfires.

U.S. Forest Service Fire Restrictions


  • fire danger extremeUntil further notice, the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests have the following fire restrictions in place due to the extremely dry conditions, high fire danger, and little chance of rain in the immediate forecast.
  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire (including charcoal based fire whether in a grill or not) is NOT ALLOWED anywhere on the National Forest.
  • The use of commercially available portable lanterns, stoves, or heating equipment that utilize gas or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed.



Fall colors begin to arrive in Panthertown (Photo by Christopher Denning Smith)


Friends of Panthertown will be sharing information about Panthertown Valley and the Panthertown Valley Trail System at our annual meeting and social event on Wednesday, October 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. Find out more about the work that our organization has done this year to protect and maintain this special place, and learn about upcoming conservation projects we have in the works. Meet and socialize with Friends of Panthertown volunteers and other local hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and explorers. A moderated panel of Panthertown experts will be on hand to share information with the public and to answer questions. Everyone is welcome, including families with children (a kid’s activity table will be available). Light refreshments will be served and there will be door prizes. Send e-mail, visit our Facebook, or call (828) 269-HIKE (4453) for info.

Invite your Friends on Facebook


Join us at Jackson County Public Library in Sylva on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.

We will be meeting in the Community Room at the Jackson County Public Library Complex located at 310 Keener Street in downtown Sylva, NC. Everyone is welcome!


Friends of PanthertownBecome a supporting member of Friends to help us protect and maintain Panthertown Valley for all to enjoy. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible. The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley. Get involved, join us, or sign-up to volunteer today!

Posted by: panthertown | June 20, 2016

Benefit Horse Exhibition Saturday June 25, 2016

Benefit Horse Exhibition Saturday June 25 at Bald Rock

Bald Rock and The Divide at Bald Rock are hosting a Panthertown Benefit Horse Exhibition & Silent Auction to benefit  Friends of Panthertown on Saturday, June 25 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Admission is free and everyone is invited. There is a parking fee of $10 per car and carpooling is encouraged. All the fun will take place in the Bald Rock Equestrian Community at the top of Trays Island Road off US Highway 64 E in Sapphire, NC. Turn at the entrance to Sapphire National Golf Club then follow signs.

Benefit 1Beginning at 10 AM when gates open you will be able to bid on silent auction items in the barn, listen to music, engage in kid’s arts and crafts activities, meet Friends, and visit various booths. Kid’s face painting by Macon Faces Face Painting from 10 to 12.

Rounding out the auction will be guided hikes, a whitewater rafting river trip, a lake tour, local art, photography, dining experiences, gift baskets, and much more.

Starting at 11 AM a delicious BBQ lunch will be for sale or bring your own picnic.

Meet and greet horses up close from 11 to 11:30 and again from 1:30 to 2. The exhibition will begin at 12 noon with a grand parade of horses.

Over a dozen different breeds will be on display showing off their attributes. Some include quarter horses, bred to be a fast powerful sprinter over a quarter mile tract. These horses have huge hindquarters that enable them to pull a cow or jump a big fence. The Paso Fino and Trote y Galope breeds are called gaited horses. This means that they can move their feet very quickly with very little forward advancement in a four beat gait with three feet on the ground at all times.

Horse Exhibition

Arrive early to meet horses up close!

Listen for their gait. It’s fascinating! Gypsy Vanner horses only first came to this country in 1996. Their name refers to a horse selectively bred for over half a century in Europe to create the perfect caravan horse. These are typically a people-sized Draft Horse with heavy bone and broad body but on a smaller scale than the larger drafts. The manes and withers add to the Gypsy Vanner’s amazing looks. The breed possesses a temperament that is friendly and engaging – sometimes referred to as a Golden Retriever with hooves!

The Laurel Magazine - June 2016 Article

The Laurel Magazine – June 2016

Bring your children, family, and friends – but please leave your dogs at home for the safety of all the animals! Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. Come rain or shine. In the event of heavy rain or lightning, activities may change.

Thank you to the residents of Bald Rock, to our silent auction donors, and to our event sponsors for helping to make this exhibition possible: The Divide at Bald Rock, Landmark Realty Group, McKee Properties, Silver Creek Real Estate Group, The Carolina Cone Team (Keller-Williams), SonRise Sanitation, and WhiteWater Equestrian Center. Special thanks to: The Laurel Magazine, Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina Mountain Towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, and Sylva.

Horse Exhibition

Bring your family on Saturday June 25!

All proceeds from this event will benefit Friends of Panthertown, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which protects and maintains 30 miles of public trails in Panthertown Valley, a 6,295 acre backcountry recreational area in the Nantahala National Forest. Panthertown offers some of the area’s most scenic public trails. Visitors enjoy its gorges, waterfalls and mountain views, all accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. Dedicated volunteers maintain the trail system for the public’s enjoyment. This is a great chance to give back and support a worthwhile cause.

For more information or to make a donation call (828) 269-HIKE (4453) or e-mail

Posted by: panthertown | May 31, 2016

National Trails Day Guided Hike in Panthertown

National Trails Day Group in Panthertown

National Trails DayYou are invited to join us on Saturday, June 4, 2016 for our annual National Trails Day Guided Hike in Panthertown.

American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day® is the country’s largest celebration of trails. Make sure you don’t miss out on this fun and casual exploration of Panthertown Valley led by Friends of Panthertown volunteers. Group size is limited. Call (828) 269-HIKE (4453) for more info or send an e-mail to RSVP.

Everyone is welcome. Some hiking experience is recommended. There is no fee to participate, although donations are appreciated. Hikers should meet at the Salt Rock trailhead (located at end of Breedlove Road in Cashiers) at 9:30am to join Friends of Panthertown guides on a loop hike into Panthertown Valley. We expect to hike 5-6 miles on moderate to intermediate trails (subject to group experience) and be back to the parking lot by 2pm. Don’t forget to wear appropriate footwear, bring plenty of water to keep you hydrated, rain gear (just in case), snacks, and a lunch to enjoy on the trail.

 Invite your friends on Facebook.Invite on Facebook

National Trails Day Hikers in Panthertown

Friends of PanthertownOur seasonal newsletter filled with Panthertown news will soon be mailed out to our members! Become a supporting member of Friends to help us protect and maintain Panthertown Valley for all to enjoy. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible. The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown Valley. Get involved, join us, or sign-up to volunteer today!

Posted by: panthertown | April 21, 2016

USFS: Fire Danger High Across North Carolina

Fire Danger High

Fire Danger High Across North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C., April 18, 2016 –

The U.S. Forest Service and the North Carolina Forest Service are warning the public of high fire danger across North Carolina.

Fire danger is high across the state due to lack of rainfall in recent weeks and low humidity. Conditions across North Carolina are forecasted to remain dry for the next couple weeks.

April typically marks the height of wildfire season in North Carolina. This year, with limited rainfall throughout March and April, forests are especially receptive to spreading fires. Concern is highest in Western North Carolina where trees have not fully leafed out.

Both agencies would like to remind the public to use caution in any outdoor burning. “The public is an important partner in fire prevention,” says Riva Duncan, Fire Management Officer for National Forests in North Carolina. “Right now, with fire danger at critical levels, we are urging the public to use common sense when it comes to outdoor burning.”

99% of wildfires in North Carolina are human caused, with the greatest number caused by back-yard debris burning. Even when burn-bans are not in effect, conditions may not be advisable for outdoor fires. The public is discouraged from lighting campfires and burning yard waste during periods of low humidity or high winds.

Both the U.S. Forest Service and North Carolina Forest Service are currently responding to multiple wildfires across North Carolina.

Source: USFS Press Release

Smokey Bear Sign "Only You"

Friends of PanthertownIf you enjoy hiking in Panthertown Valley and would like to help Friends of Panthertown protect this spectacular natural resource, we ask that you become a supporting member of our organization by volunteering at one of our upcoming trail work days, or by becoming a member. Donations are tax-deductible and new volunteers and members are always welcome to join us. For more info call (828) 269-HIKE (4453) or e-mail

Posted by: panthertown | April 1, 2016

Polar Bear in Panthertown! USFS Closes Hiking Trails

Rare Polar Bear Sighting in Panthertown

A rare polar bear (Ursus maritimus) sighting in Panthertown

PANTHERTOWN VALLEY, NC (Published 4/1/2016) –

A rare polar bear (Ursus maritimus) sighting in Panthertown has prompted U.S. Forest Service officials to close all trails in the forest until further notice.

Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins was reported to have been heard discussing the situation with North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission biologists, “Unlike other bear species, polar bears are almost exclusively meat eaters (carnivorous). We don’t want any hikers to become an easy food source for these beasts.”

Sources claim the bear was first seen bathing in the pool below Schoolhouse Falls and again on top of Little Green Mountain. Be safe out there folks. Don’t feed the bears.

Story update: Ranger Wilkins has issued an official statement encouraging mountain bikers and equestrians to continue using the trails since they can move more quickly than hikers and would provide tasty bear bait. Officials hope the rare polar bear will follow the horses and bikes out of Panthertown and into nearby neighborhoods.

News at 11.

Bears in PanthertownFriends of Panthertown is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Join Friends to help us protect and maintain Panthertown Valley for all to enjoy. Even polar bears. Click here for info about black bear activity (Ursus americanus) in Panthertown.

Posted by: panthertown | December 23, 2015

Winter Welcome in Panthertown

Frozen Schoolhouse Falls. Photo by Todd Ransom.

Frozen Schoolhouse Falls. Photo by Todd Ransom.

Wonderful Winter Welcome

As we each gather together with our families and celebrate this holiday season, we would like to say thank you and wish you a happy and healthy new year.

We want to recognize the exceptional contributions of all our members and the many outstanding volunteers who were a direct part of our successes this year.

2015 was a busy year for Friends of Panthertown and we appreciate everyone who has helped us protect and maintain Panthertown. If you have not yet had a chance to renew your membership, there is still a little time left before 2016.

  • With your support, our dedicated volunteers have maintained 30 miles of public trails this year spread out over 6,295 acres in Panthertown Valley.
  • This fall we removed the invasive autumn olive from Granny Burrell’s homesite along Deep Gap Trail and cleared the way for future upkeep.
  • This summer we helped the U.S. Forest Service complete a much needed parking lot improvement project at the Cold Mountain trail head that will benefit everyone who visits that popular entrance to Panthertown.
  • We continue to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve this outstanding natural resource while improving the quality and experience of recreational opportunities in Panthertown for all users.
Frozen Schoolhouse Falls. Photo by Todd Ransom.

Frozen Schoolhouse Falls. Photo by Todd Ransom, author of Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley


We are preparing for whatever this winter’s weather may bring. With heavy snow and ice predicted, we expected there will be lots of trees and branches coming down and plenty of trail clearing work for us to do by springtime. Our dedicated volunteers work hard to keep your favorite trails clear and maintained for everyone to enjoy.
Thanks again for all your support!

and support the work of Friends of Panthertown:
  1. Join Friends of Panthertown – We work on your behalf to protect Panthertown.
  2. Volunteer – We invite everyone to get involved, whatever your interests & skills are.
  3. Donate – Make a donation today and we will put your gift to good work immediately.
  4. Attend or Sponsor – Our benefit horse exhibition and silent auction is June 25, 2016.
  5. Adopt-A-Trail – Find out how your group can help us protect the trails you love.
  6. Shop at Highland Hiker – Until 12/31, they will donate a portion of your purchase!
  7. Use Amazon Smile – Click link to donate .5% of your sale to Friends of Panthertown.
  8. Tell a Friend! Know someone who loves Panthertown? Invite them to join Friends.

Panthertown Valley Autumn 2015

The U.S. Forest Service – National Forests in North Carolina is asking for the public’s involvement during the Nantahala and Pisgah Forest Plan revision process, which includes Panthertown Valley and surrounding forests.
Panthertown Valley protects the healthy headwaters of the Tuckasegee River. This precious watershed has been identified as having potential Outstandingly Remarkable Values and may be eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
North Carolina has approximately 37,853 miles of river, of which 144.5 miles are designated as Wild & Scenic — less than 4/10ths of 1% of the state’s river miles. Currently, those rivers include the Chattooga RiverHorsepasture RiverLumber RiverNew River, and Wilson Creek.
If this identified segment of the Tuckasegee is designated Wild & Scenic, Friends of Panthertown will continue to work with the U.S. Forest Service  to be good stewards of its headwaters, which include outstanding and pristine Panthertown Creek and Greenland Creek. Current recreational usages would remain permitted and protected. Only about 1/4 of 1% of our nation’s rivers are protected under the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System.

Tuckasegee River Outstanding Remarkable Values

Public meetings scheduled:
Monday, November 9 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Tartan Hall
First Presbyterian Church
26 Church Street, Franklin, N.C.


Monday, November 16 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Mountain View Room
Wilma M. Sherrill Center & Kimmel Arena
University of North Carolina, Asheville


Find out more about the forest plan and more opportunities to get involved:

Meeting Flyer

Forest Service Alert

Due to heavy amounts of rain already received and anticipated heavy rainfall amounts from Hurricane Joaquin, currently a Category 4 storm in the Atlantic Ocean, the U.S. Forest Service will be closing some areas on the National Forests in North Carolina.
“Visitor and Forest Service employee safety is a priority and everyone is encouraged to be prepared for possible flooding, fallen trees, rock slides and other safety concerns. Visitors are encouraged to stay off Forest Service roads and reschedule outdoor activities.”

Due to changing weather conditions other recreational areas and road closures on the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie or Croatan National Forest may occur.

 The U.S. Forest Service has asked visitors to follow these safety tips:

  • Do NOT cross roads that appear flooded
  • While traveling on Forest Service roads slow down for weather conditions, and watch out for locked gates and/or fallen trees

Flash flood, high wind watch alerts, plus a statement on increased risk of life threatening landslides have been issued by the National Weather Service for Jackson County and most of Western North Carolina

Hurricane JoaquinThe most rain Panthertown Valley has seen in a decade is forecast to fall this weekend. The Crossroads Chronicle reports this storm event will likely bring “the most rain the Cashiers area has seen in such a short time span since 2004, when remnants of Hurricane Frances and Ivan hit the area back-to-back and dumped 15 inches of rain“.

In anticipation of the rain, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for southern Jackson County and most of Western North Carolina until 8 a.m. Monday. A high wind watch has also been issued for much of Western North Carolina, in effect from Friday evening through Sunday evening. “Strong wind gusts will combine with saturated soils to create the possibility of numerous downed trees,” the Weather Service advisory states.

Don’t take any chances with your life in Panthertown Valley or anywhere near water! and National Weather Service caution:

“Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning. If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the #1 cause of weather-related deaths in the US.”

Read more Emergency Preparedness tips here.

If you have any questions, please contact the Jackson County Emergency Management office at (828) 586-7508

Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: