A map is highly recommended to hike in Panthertown Valley. Learn more here and get trailhead directions. Once at the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead:
This hike starts on Macs Gap Trail (#482), which begins to the left immediately after the turn off Cold Mountain Road. Parking is limited, so you may have to drive farther along the road to find a place. Parking is prohibited on Cold Mountain Road.
Macs Gap Trail starts at the wide spot in the access road, heads southwest (downhill) for a few feet, and picks up an old logging grade. It passes under a power line at 0.17 mile and at 0.57 comes to Greenland Creek Trail (#488), cutting sharply to the right. Remember this spot if you want to explore Greenland Creek downstream after viewing the upper waterfalls.
Continue on the main path, which is now the combined Greenland Creek Trail and Macs Gap Trail, for 0.14 mile to a small, open spot in the old road a few yards before the creek. Just before the clearing, Macs Gap Trail turns right and crosses the creek. Just beyond the clearing, follow Greenland Creek Trail as it enters the woods to the left. You may have to look around to find it. The trail twists among rhododendrons and mountain laurel, crosses several small branches, and does a superb job of getting your feet muddy before depositing you on the rocks at the base of the waterfall 0.31 mile from the logging road. To see the falls well, you’ll have to scramble through the vegetation and rocks to the middle of the creek.
Pay attention to the spot where you reach the base of the falls. You’ll have to walk out on the rocks to see the waterfall. When you return, it’s easy to miss the rocks and take a more obvious path on the right that climbs the bank.
Leave No Trace — Seven Principles
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
3. Dispose of Waste Properly
4. Leave What You Find
5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
6. Respect Wildlife
7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more details, visit www.lnt.org
©1999 by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics
- Heed posted warning signs indicating danger and stay on established trails.
- Never climb on or around waterfalls and never play in the water above a waterfall. Rocks can be slippery and it’s easy to lose your balance especially with bare feet. Currents near waterfalls can be extremely swift even in areas further upstream.
- Never jump off waterfalls or dive into plunge pools at the base of waterfalls. Rocks and logs can be hidden beneath the surface of the water. Often waterfall pools have swirling water or currents that can drag and keep you underwater.
- Even if you have seen other people enjoy playing around waterfalls, be aware they have been lucky to escape unharmed. Waterfalls are constantly changing with varying water flows and erosion of the rocks around them. The current from one place to the next may be faster than you anticipate and the arrangement of rocks or other debris such as logs in the plunge pool is ever changing.