Visitor’s Guide

Panthertown Valley Autumn 2015

Thanks for visiting! 

Panthertown is a wonderful place to explore, however there are a few things you should be aware of before visiting for your first time. We hope this list of suggestions (and cautions) will make your experience in Panthertown Valley more enjoyable:

  • This is a wild, rugged place with more than 30 miles of public trails spread out over 6,295 acres deep in the Nantahala National Forest. It’s easy to get lost.    We recommend you bring a good map and compass, and know how to use them.
  • Panthertown is NOT a National Park or State Park. Use the trails at your own risk.
  • Bring plenty of water to drink, or a filtration system to keep you hydrated. There are no water fountains, trash cans, or restrooms here. Please carry out your trash.
  • Hiking in the forest can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced hikers. Know before you go, plan ahead, and come prepared for a fun backcountry experience.
  • You may get wet, muddy, scratched up, and dirty just from hiking here. Expect to hike several miles to reach the most popular points of interest. The hike out of the valley is uphill and can be difficult. That’s all part of the Panthertown experience!
  • Black bears live here and are protected as part of the Bonas Defeat-Panthertown Bear Sanctuary. Panthertown hosts a diversity of wildlife, please do not feed the animals! Hazards to watch out for include venomous snakes and yellow jackets.
  • Friends of Panthertown volunteers only maintain the official trail system in Panthertown. There are hundreds of miles of user created footpaths that criss-cross the valley. For your safety, and to protect the ecology, we recommend you stay on the marked trails and avoid short cuts through the woods. Remember, it’s easy to get lost here, and we want you to enjoy your backcountry experience.


  • Camping is primitive and no amenities are provided. Forest Service rules limit camp sites to no more than 12 people, and not within 50 feet of water sources.
  • Please use existing fire rings and never leave a fire unattended. Make sure to properly extinguish and drown your fire and coals before leaving your campsite!


  • There is limited parking, low-clearance gravel roads, and heavy use on weekends.


  • Always practice Leave No Trace principles of outdoor ethics when visiting.

The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You FindPanthertown Valley Trail System Map
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Reprinted with permission ©Leave No Trace

Help us protect this special place.

Join Friends of Panthertown today as a supporting member at the $50 level or higher to receive a waterproof and tear resistant map of the Panthertown Valley trail system, a publication of the U.S. Forest Service. Don’t leave home without a good map!

This is a limited-time  offer, while supplies last. Please tell us how you heard about this offer in the comments section of the Membership sign-up form.