Panthertown Valley Hiking Trails: Also known as the “Yosemite of the East”, Panthertown Valley is a rugged slice of approximately 6,300 acres that includes the headwaters of the Tuckasegee River, the East Fork of the Little Tennessee River, and numerous creeks and waterfalls. With an awesome swimming hole and the naturally accessible trail that snakes behind the waterfall, Schoolhouse Falls is always a favorite. The water is definitely frigid year round, but the rock beach typically gets great sun. The budding geologist could play for hours in the rocks, while the kids (grown or young) will enjoy skipping the stones. Enter from the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead for the shorter hike in at less than a mile, or for a little longer excursion, park at the Salt Rock Gap Trailhead to make it closer to 2 miles one way. Be sure to bring a map, so as not to get lost in the matrix of trails.
Directions from Brevard: To get to the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead (GPS 35.157843, -82.998909), take US 64 West out of downtown Brevard towards Lake Toxaway. Take a right on NC 281 and follow it for .8 miles to Cold Mountain Road on the left. Follow for 5.8 miles to where it makes a sharp left and turns to gravel – then follow to the trailhead. To get to the Salt Rock Gap Trailhead (35.16627, -83.03602), continue on US 64 West past NC 281. Take a right on Cedar Creek Road and follow for 2.3 miles to Breedlove Road on the right. Follow Breedlove Road for 3.5 miles to the parking lot.
Local Hiking Expert: Mast General Store
15 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC