Panthertown Trails Project comments requested by USFS

USFSThe U.S. Forest Service Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins sent us a letter asking for comments from the public related to the Panthertown Trails Project.

Wilderness Falls
Re-routing a .25 mile section of the Wilderness Falls Trail will provide for safer access to this very popular waterfall.

First on the agenda is re-routing the very steep section of Wilderness Falls Trail (#490) to provide for safer access to this magnificent waterfall. Over the last several years, Friends of Panthertown has been working with the U.S. Forest Service to complete all necessary requirements to make this plan a reality. After many years in the works, with the help of dedicated volunteers, we hope to finally be able to complete the ground work needed to re-route this popular trail.

The second item is for the U.S. Forest Service to officially recognize Carlton’s Way, a well-used footpath located in the center of the valley, originally created by the late Carlton McNeill. Known by many as the unofficial caretaker, or “mayor of Panthertown”, Carlton was responsible for creating many of the trails and footpaths found in Panthertown Valley and used to this day. Bringing this popular trail into the Panthertown Trail System will create a much-needed loop connection from the Overlook Trail (#491) to North Road Trail (#453), a short hop away from Panthertown Valley Trail (#474). We are happy to be able to honor Carlton’s volunteerism and love of Panthertown with a trail named for his work.

Feel free to contact us at (828) 269-HIKE (4453) or e-mail if you have any questions or concerns. We encourage you to show your support for this project by submitting a comment to the District Ranger. Your feedback is appreciated and volunteers will be needed to help with the work. Thank you very much for your participation and support.

Download Panthertown Trails Scoping Notice (1MB PDF file)

July 10, 2012

Dear Forest User,

This letter is part of the scoping phase and public involvement for Panthertown Trails Project on the Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala Ranger District in Jackson County, North Carolina. We are analyzing the potential effects of the project, which would occur on the western edge of Panthertown.

The Wilderness Falls trail, south of the Salt Rock parking area, has a user-created section of trail that does not meet Forest Service trail standards. Another trail, Carlton’s Way, which is east of the Salt Rock parking area, meets those standards but is not incorporated as a part of the Forest Service trail system. The Forest Service is proposing a project to address these issues.

The proposed action is to re-route the part of the Wilderness Falls trail that does not meet standards and to incorporate Carlton’s Way into the trail system. Approximately .25 miles of new trail on the Wilderness Falls trail would be constructed near Salt Rock, along the western edge of Panthertown. This trail would be constructed using hand tools, and the old non-standard trail route would be closed to the public and re-seeded. Carlton’s Way would be added to the Forest Service trail system, and the Forest Service would begin maintaining the trail as needed.

I encourage your participation during this 30-day notice and comment period. Following the comment period, I will be publishing a decision for the project. Please make your comments as specific as possible, and you must provide the following information: (1) your name and address; (2) title of the proposed action; (3) specific substantive comments (215.2) on the proposed action, along with supporting reasons that I should consider in reaching a decision; and (4) your signature or other means of identification verification. For organizations, a signature or other means of identification verification must be provided for the individual authorized to represent your organization.

In accordance with 36 CFR 215.6(2)(4), comments must be postmarked or received within 30 days beginning the day after publication of this notice in The Franklin Press. Oral or hand-delivered comments must be received within our normal business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Comments may be mailed electronically, in a common digital format, to:; or by regular mail to: Nantahala Ranger District, 90 Sloan Road, Franklin, NC 28734, or faxed to 828-479-6592.

Please contact Thomas Saylors, Project Leader at 828-524-6441 x 424 if you have questions concerning this proposal. Thank you for your continued interest in the management of the National Forests in North Carolina.


/s/ Michael L. Wilkins

District Ranger

Download Panthertown Trails Scoping Notice (1MB PDF file)


  1. 2 suggestions: The while double arrows on the Green Mtn boulders need to be repainted. Also the exit trail descending to Schoolhouse Falls could use a clear trail marker there.

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