Trailblazer | 5056 pts
Panther Creek is a tale of two trails, one section easy, the other quite tough. The US441 to falls section is easy and heavily used. The heavy use is well deserved, as Panther Creek is quite beautiful with many shoals, large boulders, and many flat rocks for fishing. The trail begins by climbing up on the ridge above the river. Many side trails down to the creek can be found. Although high on the ridge, the beauty of the creek remains in sight. At mile 1.4 the trail descends to the creek and many well-established campsites can be found here and are frequent to the falls. The trail is easily followed to the falls, but at mile 1.0 you need to make a sharp left up through the rocks instead of continuing straight ahead. Look for well-worn double blaze on the rocks. At mile 3.2 the trail conditions begins to change. Rocky terrain becomes the norm with some narrow footing. Metal posts with chains are placed where more difficult footing exists. Be careful of the posts, some are loose. At the falls, mile 3.5, you have a moderately steep climb down to the bottom. The falls are quite impressive and much more than I anticipated. There is a wonderful pool at the base, and worth bringing a swimsuit in season. We then walked the trail to the Yonah Dam trailhead. This part of the trail was quite difficult as the rocky terrain and narrow footing continued. This section of trail is much less used, we did not see any hikers beyond the falls. Slippery rocks, poor footing, rocky out crops became frequent for the next mile. At this point the trail leaves the creek and you start a climb following a stream to a point to a crossing on a foot bridge. Here the trail sharply ascends for the next .2 of a mile. At the top the trail levels for a short distance before beginning the moderate descent back down to Panther Creek further downstream. We reached the trailhead and made the return trip back to US441 trailhead. The 11-mile roundtrip was a little tougher than I had expected.