Posted by: panthertown | September 1, 2018

Friends of Panthertown awarded Cashiers Community Fund grant

Volunteers help us take care of the trails in Panthertown.

Thanks to the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina for supporting Friends of Panthertown in 2018 with a Cashiers Community Fund grant award of $10,000. The funds will be used in support of our ongoing Panthertown Valley trail maintenance and stewardship projects.

Panthertown Valley is a popular 6,295-acre backcountry recreation area located in Cashiers in the Nantahala National Forest. According to Nantahala District Ranger Mike Wilkins, more than 25,000 visitors enjoy outdoor recreation in Panthertown each year.

Individuals and groups of all ages often explore this incredible natural resource. These include hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, equestrians, rock climbers, birders, anglers, scouts, students, and families. Users include Cashiers residents, their guests, and many visitors to the Cashiers community that contribute to our local economy.

Our organization is the only organization devoted entirely to protecting and maintaining Panthertown Valley, an incredible natural resource located in Cashiers. Friends of Panthertown works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service by coordinating volunteers for much-needed conservation projects and trail maintenance activities throughout Panthertown Valley.

This grant will partially fund volunteer coordination, stewardship outreach, and training for our volunteers. It will also allow us to purchase essential tools, materials, and safety equipment for our trail crew to maintain 30 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails in Panthertown Valley for residents and visitors of Cashiers to use.

Friends of Panthertown will continue to organize trail work days to maintain 30 miles of public non-motorized hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails in Panthertown Valley for Cashiers residents, visitors, and the greater community to enjoy.

This project will emphasize public stewardship of this outstanding natural resource and allow us to continue the work that we do to protect this special place.

Panthertown Valley is an incredible natural resource very worthy of protection. Our stewardship will encourage conservation and protection of Panthertown, with local residents and visitors alike using this incredible natural resource for education, health and wellness, environmental benefit, and as a prime natural resource to enjoy in the Cashiers area.

Posted by: panthertown | August 9, 2018

National Geographic Adventurer of the Year to visit Plateau

Jennifer Pharr Davis

SAPPHIRE, NC – Friends of Panthertown will host a presentation by Jennifer Pharr Davis, long distance hiker, author, speaker, and 2011 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year on Saturday, August 18. The program will be held at The County Club of Sapphire Valley from 5:30pm – 7:30pm as a ticketed benefit in support of conservation work in Panthertown Valley.

Jennifer Pharr Davis has logged over 14,000 miles on six different continents, including thru-hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Colorado Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, numerous trails in Europe, and the Appalachian Trail three times. In 2011, Jennifer wanted to test her physical limits. With the help of her husband Brew and a dedicated group of friends, she set the fastest known time (male or female) on the “A.T.” by hiking 47 miles a day for 46 days straight.

“We are excited to have Jennifer share her adventures with us,” said Jason Kimenker, Executive Director of Friends of Panthertown, “and we know her stories will inspire, entertain, and delight the audience.”

Jennifer will be sharing slides and stories, answering questions, and reading excerpts from her new book The Pursuit of Endurance, available for sale at the event. Publisher’s Weekly says, “this inspiring work (is) at times reminiscent of the writings of such travel memoirists as Cheryl Strayed and Bill Bryson (and) could become a regular companion for distance hikers or, indeed, for anyone embarking on a personal challenge.” 

Jennifer will also be signing books after the program. For her adventures, she has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, ESPN, and the CBS Early Show. She is founder and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, an Asheville, North Carolina-based guiding service whose mission is “to make the wilderness accessible and enjoyable through the written and spoken word, instruction and guiding.”

Friends of Panthertown is a 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization that works 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, a 6,295-acre backcountry recreation area with 30 miles of public trails within Nantahala National Forest.

General admission tickets for An Evening with Jennifer Pharr Davis cost $10 per person. Tickets may be purchased online with a credit card at to be held at will call, and with cash or check at the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center (828) 743-5191.

Doors open at 5pm. Arrive early for best seating.
Cash bar and light snacks will be available.
A limited number of tickets will also be available to purchase at the door.

A very special VIP ticket package is also available including premium front row reserved seating, a signed copy of her new book, The Pursuit of Endurance, and an invitation to hike in Panthertown Valley with Jennifer. 

Contact Friends of Panthertown at for more information.Buy Ticketscropped-ptownlogojpg

Panthertown Valley EXPO & PicnicPanthertown Valley EXPO & Picnic

Friends of Panthertown to Celebrate National Trails Day

On National Trails Day, Saturday, June 2, local non-profit Friends of Panthertown will host a Panthertown Valley EXPO to celebrate National Trails Day at Sapphire Valley Community Center from 2pm to 4pm and an informal National Trails Day Picnic in Panthertown kick-off gathering at the Salt Rock Gap overlook in Panthertown Valley from 11am to 1pm. Both events are free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.

For the Picnic in Panthertown, bring your own chairs or a blanket, gather your friends, and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at the Salt Rock Gap overlook. There will be an opportunity to go hiking and explore Panthertown both before and after the picnic. Maps will be available.

After the picnic, head over to the Sapphire Valley Community Center anytime between 2pm and 4pm for the EXPO. Experts will be on hand to provide information and answer your questions about exploring Panthertown, including hiking, mountain biking, riding horses, fishing, birding, and rock climbing. There will be door prizes and giveaways, including maps and t-shirts, live music by Geoff McBride plus an opportunity to sign up for summertime guided hikes into Panthertown.

Thanks to our sponsors and exhibitors at the EXPO: Bald Rock, Highland HikerOskar Blues Brewery North CarolinaD.D. Bullwinkel’s OutdoorsBrookings’ AnglersNantahala Area SORBA, Bear Tracks Travel Center, Panthertown Map AssociationJackson County, North Carolina, Recreation and Parks and Jackson County Outdoor Recreation.

Friends of Panthertown Valley is the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that protects and maintains more than 30 miles of public trails in Panthertown Valley, a 6,300 acre backcountry recreational area in the Nantahala National Forest, in partnership with U.S. Forest Service – National Forests in North Carolina. Panthertown offers some of the most scenic public trails in the area.

Sapphire Valley Community Center is located at 127 Cherokee Trail in Sapphire, NC.

Salt Rock Gap in Panthertown is located at the end of Breedlove Road off Cedar Creek Road in Cashiers. Parking is limited along the bumpy 1/4 mile USFS gravel road leading to the trailhead. Signs will be posted at the trailhead directing hikers to the nearby picnic site located about a 5-10 minute walk from the parking area. In case of rain, the picnic will instead be located at Sapphire Valley Community Center where the Expo will also be held.

Contact or visit for more info on these and other events, including An evening with Jennifer Pharr Davis on August 18 by Jennifer Pharr Davis, hiker, author, speaker, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year who has covered over 12,000 miles of long distance trails on six different continents and holds the overall record for fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail.



Panthertown Valley to be renamed Beartown Valley; Entry fee to be charged.

April 1, 2018 (Happy April Fool’s Day)

Cashiers, NC – Panthertown Valley is designated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission as part of the Panthertown-Bonas Defeat Bear Sanctuary. Bear hunting is prohibited anywhere in Panthertown.

Due to a significant increase in black bear (Ursus americanus) encounters in Panthertown Valley over the past several years, and as a result of intense market research following an extensive public comment period, on Friday the U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Mike Wilkins and Forest Supervisor Gifford Pinchot announced they have officially authorized renaming this popular back country recreation area.

“When was the last time anyone saw an actual panther in Panthertown Valley”, Wilkins asked. This question comes up often from visitors to the valley. “It’s been a hot minute. But, there are plenty of big and hungry bears living there instead”, said someone of authority who wished to remain anonymous. “The bears have most likely eaten all of the remaining panthers, or at least scared them away.” Beginning July 1, a user entry fee of $1 per visitor will be charged to help offset the costs of renaming the valley.

District Ranger Mike Wilkins was overheard discussing the situation with North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission officers. “We really should rename this back country area to better reflect the wildlife that inhabit its boundaries.” Earlier this year the name Trouttown Valley was recommended by anglers, but due to the word having two Ts back to back, they decided against it. “Beartown has a much better ring to it”, said Wilkins, “and there is only one letter T in that name.” Forest Supervisor Gifford Pinchot reported that the name Squirreltown Valley was also suggested and was under consideration for about a minute.

The North Carolina Forest Supervisor has indicated people are confused about the name Panthertown. The bears have been petitioning for a name change for as long as she can remember. All signs and maps of the area will be adjusted starting today to reflect the new name. References to the name Panthertown Valley will be scrubbed from the internet. Any remaining panthers in the valley will be batter dipped and served with sweet tea and a side of ranch dressing. And now, back to your regularly scheduled news.

For actual, honest to goodness, true current information about bear activity from U.S. Forest Service: Bear activity in Beartown Valley

Friends of PanthertownBecome a supporting member of Friends to help us protect and maintain Beartown Valley for all to enjoy. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible. The mission of Friends of Beartown 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 Beartown Valley. Get involved, join us, or sign-up to volunteer today!

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