Tuesday, February 05, 2013


When I first started visiting Panthertown Valley it was a relatively unknown place. I could go there and not see anyone, even on the finest of hiking days. I once spent three entire days in Panthertown and never saw (or heard) another human. It wasn't quite wilderness (not with that Duke Power right-of-way scar running down the center of the 6,000-acre plot), but it was close.

On this visit, even though we were greeted with cold and wintery weather, the Valley was pretty damned crowded. I would not hesitate to guess that there were at least 100 people in the southern half of the Valley when we were there. We camped in the northern part of Panthertown and seemed to have that section to ourselves, but that's because of a deep creek crossing that we were willing to make, while others were not. (Take your shoes off and roll up your pants and try crossing a wide creek when it's 20 degrees out. It ain't fun.)

Because Panthertown's perimeters are easily accessible by auto, I supposed it's doomed to be a very popular destination from now on. Add in the fact that many of the trails are old roadbeds from when it was almost wrecked as a real estate development, and it's ripe for abuse from the hiking public. I saw at least one teenaged kid sawing down live trees to use as fuel for a campfire. And the forests were loud with human voices when in the old days all I'd hear was the water and the wind and the birds (and the singing coyotes in the evening).


Panthertown Valley as seen from Salt Rock Gap.

The view from one of the cliffs on Big Green Mountain.

Big Green Mountain.
Panthertown is a moist place, for sure.
You can't quite see them in this video, but some of the nearby ridges across the Valley are covered in the houses of millionaires that have ruined the wild aspect of Panthertown.

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