Flat Creek Falls & Panthertown Valley

Trip Start Aug 19, 2012
Trip End Dec 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Kuykendall Group Camp
What I did
Flat Creek Falls
Panthertown Valley
Schoolhouse Falls
Greenland Creek Falls
Mac's Falls
Raven Rock Falls

Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Saturday, July 27, 2013

In the morning, the rain had finally stopped, but the campground was thoroughly soaked.  Luckily, our tent had remained dry through the night though.  We had breakfast and arranged the day's adventures - a trip to see Flat Creek Falls and then Panthertown Valley.  From the campsite, we took US-64 west to NC-281 north and drove for about five miles or so to Rock Bridge Road in the Little Canada area of Jackson County.  It's about four miles to the end of Rock Bridge Road, but this is a narrow windy gravel road that turns into a forest road some ways in, so it seems to take forever.  Fortunately, this road gets very little traffic so no worries about oncoming traffic.  We parked at the end of the road near Flat Creek and set off on our hike.  There is an immediate stream crossing over Flat Creek.  I chose to keep my boots off and wade across the creek, but its also possible to cross on some old logs across the creek.  From here there is a big camping spot and then the trail crosses some old jeep mounds and follows a very overgrown logging road for a ways.  I had been here in March and it was amazing how much different it looked with all the foliage and growth.  Soon the logging road became less and less a trail and more of a bushwhack until it came out on another old logging road.  We marked the spot with some flagging tape to ensure we would see the barely visible turn on our way back and then headed down the old logging road.  This trail continues for a while across a ridge and then switchbacks down to Flat Creek downstream of the waterfall.  It becomes more of a trail at this point and there are two stream crossings close together.  After the second stream crossing the trail continues, but some flagging tape indicated the route went into the woods.  We followed the flagging tape and bushwhacked most of the rest of the way to Flat Creek Falls until finally making it.  Success!  We made it this time.  And what a beautiful waterfall it is.  From where we were, we couldn't actually see the whole thing.  There is a free-fall of about 70 feet with some massive cascades.  There are more cascades above the freefall section, but no way to see them from where we were.  We stopped here and ate lunch and enjoyed the view.  It wasn't raining, but the force of the waterfall was creating a lot wind and drizzle that made it hard to get really good pictures.  On the way back, we took the trail all the way back to avoid the bushwhacking.  The marking tape is misleading as getting off the trail after the second stream crossing only made things difficult.  We made our way back up the ridge and back towards the car.  When we were almost all the way back, we tried to find Nellie's Falls, a mostly unknown falls that's supposed to be right off the trail.   However, we couldn't find the other logging road that leads to the fall and so gave up and headed to Pathertown Valley

On the way to Panthertown Valley, we were able to see Shower Falls along the side of Cold Mountain Road.  This waterfall rarely had enough water to even be worth looking at, but today it actually had some flow.  After stopping for a minute, we drove to the Cold Mountain Road entrance of Panthertown Valley and started our hike.  We started out on the Panthertown Valley Trail (474) leading towards Schoolhouse Falls.  Starting on the trail, we could here music and finally found a speaker in the woods.  Not what you expect to find in a backcountry area.  But I think it was from the Canaan Valley community.  Shortly after seeing the speaker, we took a short unmarked trail that led down to Schoolhouse Falls and then waded across to the main viewing area.  We stopped here for a bit to take some pictures and I headed over to the side of the falls to get some shots from another angle.  Then we continued on an unmarked trail that led upstream along Greenland Creek.  We saw a couple of smaller waterfalls along the trail, including Mac's Falls, before meeting up with Greenland Creek Trail (488) and followed this to Greenland Creek Falls.  We stopped to enjoy the waterfall for a bit, then headed back up Greenland Creek Trail to Mac's Gap Trail (482) back to the parking lot.  It was starting to get late and we started making our way back to camp, but shortly past the parking area on Cold Mountain Road, I saw John pull over.  Initially, I thought he was having car trouble, but instead was stopping for one more waterfall.  We made the short hike to see Raven Rock Falls, a very impressive waterfall with a tall 20- or 30-foot free fall and then cascades over several "stairs" in the rock.  Along the way, there were a couple of smaller waterfalls that were probably only really noticeable because of the high water levels as well as a rather scary-looking bridge to cross under one of them.  When we were done here, we made our way into Brevard and had dinner before making our way back to camp.
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