Volunteer with Friends of Panthertown

Check our Calendar of Events for a list of upcoming work days.


The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve Panthertown as a backcountry natural resource and to enable sustainable recreation.

We acknowledge that Panthertown and the surrounding forests are located on the ancestral lands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), and possibly other tribes.

Friends of Panthertown has a strong and abiding commitment to diversity and inclusion that is important to our mission. By welcoming individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds among our visitors, employed and volunteer workforce, board, and donors, we seek to further the U.S. Forest Service’s goal of creating a culture of inclusion which awakens and strengthens everyone’s connection with Panthertown and its unique natural resources. Everyone is welcome.

Our Stew Crew Needs You!

The trails in Panthertown are always in need of some maintenance. So grab your work gloves, lace up your hiking boots, and join us at an upcoming trail stewardship day.

Trail Stewardship Team – STEW CREW 2023

If you’ve noticed that the trails you are hiking in Panthertown Valley are worn deep from the tread of too many boots, you can do something about it. Panthertown has more than 30 miles of public trails to maintain, and we sure could use your help.

Our volunteer trail stewardship days are the great time to give back, go hiking, and have fun with old friends and new. Volunteer at one of our weekly Trail Stewardship Days (typically from 9 am to 2 pm each scheduled work day) to help us maintain and improve our most precious trails.

You won’t be alone. It’s a great chance to meet others who also love Panthertown. Our volunteers have contributed thousands of hours helping us maintain the trails, bridges, and staircases in Panthertown Valley, installing and maintaining trail markers, removing trash, monitoring fragile ecosystems, identifying and removing invasive species of plants, all while learning and practicing the Leave No Trace principles and Bear Wise best practices.

Our volunteers are the heart of our organization. Become one!

You can also Adopt-A-Trail in Panthertown!
Give us a call or e-mail if you’re interested.

Volunteers in Panthertown
Friends of Panthertown volunteers practicing Leave No Trace at The Great Panthertown Campsite Cleanup (2021).

Here’s what to expect: 

We usually hike about 4 to 5 miles – working along the way and taking breaks when the group needs to rest. We stop and take a lunch break when stomachs start growling and we usually finish up by around 2 – 2:30 pm. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to meet others and learn about Panthertown. The best part is that you go home tired and content knowing that you helped to maintain the trails in Panthertown for everyone to get to enjoy. A good deed, indeed!

Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to attend – no previous trail work experience is necessary, however we do recommend you have some hiking experience, and the ability to hike on varied terrain, particularly gravel and compacted dirt backcountry trails. Tools, safety gear, and instruction will be provided.

Contact us if you are interested in volunteering at one of our upcoming stewardship days, if you would like to put together a service project for your group, or if you just need more information. We are happy to have your support of our mission!

Volunteers should bring:

☑️ We recommend you bring a day pack with your lunch, snacks, water, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, etc. and rain gear (just in case), and anything else you need to stay healthy and comfortable while working on the trails.

☑️ Bring your own work gloves and safety glasses if you have any, otherwise we will have some extras available to loan out (washed/sanitized, in adult sizes).

☑️ Wear closed-toe footwear. Protect your feet. A good pair of sturdy shoes or boots with dry socks will go a long way towards enjoying your hike and having fun while volunteering. A spare pair of dry socks in your pack may come in handy.

☑️ Wear long pants. Depending on the work we are doing, you will get dirty, and there may be poison ivy, thorns, ticks, snakes, or other natural hazards to protect yourself from, so please dress accordingly, and wear layers based on the season.

☑️ For your safety, the U.S. Forest Service requires all volunteers to wear personal protective equipment while doing any trail maintenance work. We will have hard hats, gloves, and eye protection available, or you may bring your own.

All volunteers will participate in a tailgate safety orientation and sign a U.S. Forest Service Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) form before any work begins.

Inclement Weather Policy: 

The trail work day will be canceled if it is raining or snowing. Volunteers who have signed-up in advance will be contacted via email if plans change.

Minors (Under 18):

Youth volunteers who are under 18 must be accompanied by an authorized responsible adult and must have prior signed approval from the Nantahala District Ranger.

Please contact us at least 2 weeks in advance to receive USFS approval.

Contact us with any questions or to request approval.

Directions to Trailheads:

There are three main entrances to Panthertown Valley. Unless otherwise specified, we typically meet at the Salt Rock Gap trailhead (western entrance to Panthertown) at the end of Breedlove Road in Glenville/Cashiers, NC. Click below for specific directions.

Click here for Directions to Panthertown trailheads.


Volunteering in Panthertown Valley (or at one of our events) can be a lot of fun and we greatly appreciate the work that our volunteers do. Having safe, maintained trails is incentive enough — but we have some bonuses for those who come out and volunteer with us more than a few times.

As a Friends organization working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Friends of Panthertown volunteers can receive Volunteer Awards in recognition of outstanding volunteer service. Each year at our annual volunteer appreciation gathering we hand out awards and recognize our most committed volunteers.

Volunteer Patch

We have awarded our volunteers with Panthertown stickers, notebooks, water bottles, and t-shirts; we have given away camping gear, gift certificates and discounts to local stores, and

Through the U.S. Forest Service we offer Volunteer Award recognition pins and patches (every 100 hours), hats (at 200 hours), an Interagency Volunteer Pass (250 hours), t-shirts (500 hours), jackets (750 hours), belt buckles (1,000 hours) and other great incentives. Complimentary memberships are awarded to all volunteers who work at least four work days with us per year. Some volunteers have worked with us over 500 hours each year!

Volunteer Award: Interagency Volunteer Pass – in recognition of 250 volunteer hours

Volunteer Pass

What are the benefits of the pass? The pass covers the entrance and/or standard amenity fees on lands managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bureau of Land Management. Passes are valid for one year from issuance date.

How can I qualify for a Volunteer Pass? Accrue just 250 hours of volunteer service on participating Federal public lands [including Panthertown Valley and Nantahala National Forest] and you can receive a Volunteer Pass in recognition of your efforts. Simply coordinate tracking of your hours with your volunteer supervisor or volunteer coordinator.

Contact Us!
Friends of Panthertown

Return to Friends of Panthertown MAIN PAGE

Contact Information:
Friends of Panthertown, Inc.
P.O. Box 51
Cashiers, NC 28717
Phone: 828-269-HIKE (4453)
Email: friends@panthertown.org
Website: www.panthertown.org

“Protecting and maintaining Panthertown Valley”