Nantahala National Forest: Greenland Creek Trail, Devil's Elbow Trail, and Shelton-Pisgah Trail to Shelton-Pisgah Mountain and Panthertail Mountain, Cashiers, North Carolina
Panthertown Valley is a mecca for outdoor recreation, with over a dozen waterfalls and many mountains that provide spectacular views. Some locations, such as Schoolhouse Falls and Little Green Mountain, are very popular. Other locations, such as Riding Ford Falls and Panthertail Mountain, are seldom visited or even heard of. On this hike, you will get to see as many as five waterfalls, with several others just a short ways off. Also, you'll visit two mountaintop vistas, with a third one nearby. Just make sure not to stray off too far on the unclear trail system on Panthertail Mountain, because you might have a long way back. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 28th, 2016. My plan was to begin this hike at Cold Mountain Gap, where I would take the Mac's Gap Trail to Greenland Creek. After hiking te short spur trail to Greenland Creek Falls, I would take the Greenland Creek Trail downstream along Greenland Creek, before turning onto an unofficial trail that led past Mac's Falls and Pothole Falls to Schoolhouse Falls. From Schoolhouse Falls, I would follow the Devil's Elbow Trail to its terminus at Shelton-Pisgah Trail, (with a short side trip to Riding Ford Falls along the way). Then, I would take the Shelton-Pisgah Trail across Shelton-Pisgah Mountain, before venturing onto a set of unofficial trails to Panthertail Mountain. From here, my plan was to return to Panthertown Valley by way of Little Green Creek, but things turned out otherwise, and I ended up following an unknown-to-me trail to Cold Mountain Gap Road.
Please note: The route that I chose to follow after Panthertail Mountain is not quite the best option, due to the long roadwalk and overall much longer hike. Instead, you can make the hike a lot shorter by returning from Panthertail Mountain via Little Green Creek and then along Devil's Elbow Trail and Panthertown Valley Trail.
R/T Length of Trail: 14.6 Miles
Duration of Hike: 9:35
Type of Hike: Loop
Difficulty Rating: 6 out of 10
Total Elevation Gain: 2834 Feet
Pros: Abundance of points of interest on this hike (minimum of five waterfalls and five vistas)
Cons: Confusing, poorly-marked trail system around Panthertail Mountain
Points of Interest: Greenland Creek Falls - 6 stars;, Mac's Falls - 1 star;, Pothole Falls - 2 stars; Schoolhouse Falls - 5 stars; Riding Ford Falls - 4 stars; View from Shelton-Pisgah Mountain - 7 stars; Views from Panthertail Mountain - Collectively 5 stars
Trail Blaze Color(s): I did not see blazes on any of the trails, official or unofficial. Occasional surveyor's tape marked the Shelton-Pisgah Trail.
Best Season(s) to Hike: Spring for the water features; Fall for the fall colors that can be seen
Beginning Point: Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead
Directions: From Cashiers, NC: Follow US Route 64 East for 12.8 miles. Then, turn left onto NC Route 281 and follow it northward for 0.9 miles. Then, turn left onto Cold Mountain Road. Follow Cold Mountain Road for 5.7 miles until you reach the entrance to the Canaan Land Christian Retreat straight ahead. To reach the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead, turn left here and drive on a narrow paved road for a short distance. Shortly after the turn, you will see a private road that continues straight - turn right here onto a gravel road that leads to the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead. You will reach the official parking area in 0.15 miles at the end of the road, but depending on the type of weather outside and what day it is, you might find the whole entrance road lined with cars - such was the case on this day, and it was not easy to find a spot anywhere! Luckily, there are many trails that folks can take, so the crowds dissipate, and this hike follows a lot of the lesser-used trails.
Click here for more information and to download this trail map to view in Garmin Basecamp.
Having hiked in Panthertown Valley a couple of times before, I knew of the fantastic waterfalls and vistas in this popular hiking area. On my more recent hike here, I visited Blackrock Mountain and Little Green Mountain, both having excellent views, and I also hiked to a number of waterfalls, including Wardens Falls at the head of the Tuckasegee River. At the time I did the hike, I didn't know about the numerous waterfalls downstream of Wardens Falls, and while on this day I didn't see all of them, there are four more waterfalls below Wardens Falls. One day, I plan on returning to this area to see the remaining waterfalls, as well as Cold Mountain (that I planned to see on this day but didn't due to trail complications).
The two main trailheads in Panthertown Valley are Salt Rock Gap and Cold Mountain Gap, although there is a couple of secondary trailheads. The two major trailheads are connected to each other by the Panthertown Valley Trail, which is the sort of central trail for the Panthertown Valley Trail System. However, a myriad of other trails branches off from the vicinity of both trailheads, such as the Blackrock Trail and Wilderness Falls Trail at Salt Rock Gap, and the Mac's Gap Trail and Greenland Creek Trail at Cold Mountain Gap. On this day, my plan was to begin with the Mac's Gap Trail. The Mac's Gap Trail doesn't start at the official parking area at the end of the short gravel road stretch. To get to the Mac's Gap Trail, walk back along the gravel road, and just before its beginning at the private driveway, turn right onto the Mac's Gap Trail, which is a wide footpath. The trail immediately starts descending into the Greenland Creek valley. The trail is wide and easy as, on its way down, it crosses a powerline cut. At 0.75 miles, the Mac's Gap Trail concludes descending near Greenland Creek at a junction with the Greenland Creek Trail. You will soon take the Greenland Creek Trail to the right, but for now, bear left on a path which both trails follow together. This is part of your side trip to Greenland Creek Falls (the tallest waterfall on this hike). At 0.85 miles, reach a clearing. The Mac's Gap Trail turns right and crosses Greenland Creek. To reach Greenland Creek Falls, continue straight on the marked Greenland Creek Trail. The trail takes on a completely different aspect. Until now, you have been following a wide, easy path. Now, the trail became a narrow, twisting path through rhododendron thickets along Greenland Creek. At 1.05 miles, the trail crosses a tributary of Greenland Creek, and at 1.2 miles, the official trail ends at Greenland Creek Falls. This is a fairly tall, single-drop waterfall that slides down a steep rock face.
A long time ago, the Greenland Creek Trail continued past Greenland Creek Falls to Halfway Falls and Carlton's Falls, two smaller waterfalls on the uppermost section of Greenland Creek. This trail is no longer maintained, but I have heard that a goat path can still be followed to those two waterfalls. However, it was not part of my plan to see them on this day. Instead, I started retracing my steps from Greenland Creek Falls back to the Mac's Gap Trail. I returned to the clearing, and briefly followed the Mac's Gap Trail before reaching the junction where the Greenland Creek Trail continues northwest at 1.65 miles. Turn left here onto the Greenland Creek Trail. The trail stays above the creek, but within earshot of it. At 1.8 miles, reach an interesting junction. The official Greenland Creek Trail continues straight to Cold Mountain Gap. A "new" unofficial trail, marked by flagging tape, turns left here and passes two smaller waterfalls on Greenland Creek before reaching Schoolhouse Falls. This is a slow route requiring some scrambling along the steep slopes near the creek, but I found it worth the effort. Thus, turn left onto the unofficial trail. At 1.9 miles, there are some views through the trees of Mac's Falls to the left. It is a small single-drop waterfall. I didn't find a clear view of it. Just beyond Mac's Falls, the trail crosses a sort of large slanted rock, which may present some difficulty to navigate. At 2.1 miles, the trail reaches Pothole Falls. It is not visible from the trail, but there is a tricky side trail to it, which involves descending steeply onto a very slick, mud-covered rock slab stretching down to Greenland Creek. Once you reach the rock slab, you can see Pothole Falls just upstream. This small falls cascades down a small ledge and through a cleft in the rocks, before the creek fans out and becomes much wider.
From Pothole Falls, return to the trail and continue on the pathway of sorts paralleling Greenland Creek. The trail soon flattens out in an area where the creek valley is broader, and at 2.3 miles, the trail reaches the creek. Walk out to the left onto some rock slabs in the creek, where you can view a small but photogenic cascade upstream with a pool in front of it. After this, the trail becomes rougher again, and there are a couple places where it can take a minute or two to find where the trail goes next. At 2.8 miles, you may notice a path heading down steeply to the left back to Greenland Creek. This is the continuation of the trail to Schoolhouse Falls, while if you walk just a bit farther, you will reach the wide, road-like Panthertown Valley Trail. I wanted to see Schoolhouse Falls again, so I took the steep trail to the left. This trail shortly flattened out and beared right near the top of the Schoolhouse Falls. After descending alongside Schoolhouse Falls, the trail reaches a junction. Here, a spur trail heads left, rock hops across Greenland Creek, and reaches Schoolhouse Falls at 3 miles. Schoolhouse Falls is perhaps the most popular destination in Panthertown Valley, although in my opinion, the waterfall isn't that spectacular. The waterfall consists of one middle-sized drop across a large ledge. It is possible to walk behind the falls. The main thing that makes this waterfall so popular is the pool in front of it, which is good for swimming.
I did not wish to stay here for long, so after snapping a few pictures, I returned to the trail along the east side of Greenland Creek. I continued on the path and reached the Panthertown Valley Trail at 3.1 miles. You have many options here, such as hiking to Little Green Mountain, Wardens Falls, Riding Ford Falls, or back to the trailhead. My plan was to continue to some lesser-used trails, so I continued straight across the Panthertown Valley Trail and onto the Devils Elbow Trail. This trail quickly left Greenland Creek and began ascending along the lower slopes of Boardcamp Ridge. At 3.4 miles, the trail passes through a large powerline clearing. Usually, powerline clearings do not belong in mountain views, but from this particular powerline cut, there is a spectacular view of Panthertown Valley - closed in by mountains on all sides.
Soon after the powerline cut, the Devils Elbow Trail begins to descend into the Little Green Creek valley. At 4 miles, the trail crosses a tributary of Little Green Creek. Immediately afterwards, the trail crosses Little Green Creek itself on well-placed stones. Just before the crossing of Little Green Creek, there is an unofficial trail/goat path that leaves to the right and travels along Little Green Creek upstream. From what information I have read, it appears that the slim pathway is possible to follow the entire time to its terminus near Cold Mountain in the gap to the southeast of Shelton-Pisgah Mountain, where the Shelton-Pisgah Trail meets the Panthertail Mountain Trail. I had planned to use this route to return from Panthertail Mountain, until my plans changed (more on that later). However, I do plan on trying this route some day. Regardless, for now, I continued on the official trail, so I could see Riding Ford Falls. After crossing the creek, the Devils Elbow Trail bends to the west and reaches a junction at 4.1 miles. Here, the Riding Ford Trail continues straight to and across the Tuckasegee River, providing access to Wardens Falls, Jawbone Falls, and Riding Ford Falls. Another goat path off the Devils Elbow Trail a bit farther on provides access to Elbow Falls, Red Butt Falls, and Lichen Falls (altogether there's six waterfalls in and near this short stretch of the Tuckasegee River!). I took the Riding Ford Trail, although I only had time to see Riding Ford Falls, as the other waterfalls required more time-consuming hikes and scrambles. I have future plans of returning to this area and seeing all of the waterfalls on and near the Tuckasegee River, as well as the Dismal Creek area waterfalls.
The Riding Ford Trail descends to and reaches the Tuckasegee River at 4.2 miles. A path to the left leads to Wardens Falls and Jawbone Falls, along with some campsites. The Riding Ford Trail fords the Tuckasegee RIver here, at a picturesque location where the river makes a 90-degree turn and changes from a slow river with standing water to a rushing mountain stream. This ford is the "Riding Ford" - the name of a car ford that once used to be here. To see Riding Ford Falls, I didn't have to ford the river. In fact, Riding Ford Falls is right here - the ford is at the top of this long, sliding falls. To reach the base, you should be able to advance down the large rock slabs in the creek to the right. Do not attempt this if the water is up or if the rocks are wet. At the bottom of the series of rock slabs, find a way to scramble up to the large boulders that are located at the base of the falls. The best view of Riding Ford Falls and the river below it is from one of these boulders. Elbow Falls and Red Butt Falls are not far downstream from Riding Ford Falls, and Lichen Falls is a half-mile below Red Butt Falls on a tributary of the Tuckasegee River. However, there is no easy way to get to any of them from this point. You'll have to retrace your steps to the Devils Elbow Trail to see them. I did retrace my steps to the Devils Elbow Trail, but not to see the waterfalls (I didn't have enough time for that). My plan was to ascend to Devils Elbow and then Shelton-Pisgah Mountain. This is where the real ascent of this hike begins.
Return to and turn left onto the Devils Elbow Trail at 4.4 miles. After this, the trail passes several campsites. According to Kevin Adams' guidebook, the spur trail to Elbow Falls, Red Butt Falls, and Lichen Falls is to the left at 4.7 miles (0.3 miles from the Riding Ford Trail junction). I must have walked straight past it, for I never saw it. Right after this, the trail begins a steep ascent to Devils Elbow. This is a sharp contrast to what the hike has been so far! The initial grade soon lessens a bit, but a steady ascent out of the Tuckasegee River Gorge continues until 5 miles, At 5 miles is a gap just below the summit of Devils Elbow. The trail doesn't ascend to Devils Elbow itself - instead, it makes what is nearly a U-turn and continues an easier ascent southeastward towards Shelton-Pisgah Mountain. At 5.15 miles, the Devils Elbow Trail ascends some steps and reaches a clearing. This is a very important point, and I marked it with a waypoint on my GPS track.
Here, the official Devils Elbow Trail ends. A lot of people simply retrace their steps from here, but there are a couple of other choices. The more obvious one lies directly ahead. The West Fork Way, an unofficial trail that is not maintained by the Forest Service, continues straight along an overgrown pathway. The West Fork Way eventually descends into the Dismal Creek watershed, reaches the West Fork of the Broad River valley, and ends at NC Route 281. The West Fork Way provides access to Dismal Falls and several other waterfalls around Dismal Creek. Also, the West Fork Way is a link between Nantahala National Forest and Pisgah National Forest. For this hike, though, I opted to take the second trail that leaves this clearing: the Shelton-Pisgah Trail. It is also unofficial and not maintained by the Forest Service, but it was possible to follow the entire time, in part thanks to frequent flagging tape. The Shelton-Pisgah Trail leads to Shelton-Pisgah Mountain, where there is a great overlook. Afterwards, the trail descends to a gap where you have the choice to see Panthertail Mountain or Cold Mountain (both have great views). It is a bit trickier to locate the beginning of this trail. At the clearing, turn right and scramble up what looks like a landslide area. At the top of it, there is a limited view back to the west. Once you reach the top of the landslide area, look for a very slim path that exits to the right into the mountain laurel bushes. It is marked by blue flagging tape. I will add a picture of the entrance to the Shelton-Pisgah Trail in the photo gallery below to further help you to understand how to reach this trail.
Once you're actually on the Shelton-Pisgah Trail, you should not have problems following it. The path itself is a bit overgrown due to a thick understory. But even with the plants on the trail, you should still be able to make out a path, and there is frequent blue flagging tape that marks the way. The trail moderately ascends for a while along the ridge leading up to Shelton-Pisgah Mountain. At 6 miles, the trail ascends to the top of an unnamed knob directly to the west of Shelton-Pisgah Mountain. Right away after the knob, the trail descends to a long rock slab that offers a breathtaking view of the upper reaches of Panthertown Valley and the mountains to the south and west of it. Cold Mountain looms high to the southeast, and Cold Mountain Gap (where your car is) is to the south-southwest. Little Green Creek flows through a deep valley directly below you.
From the overlook below Shelton-Pisgah Mountain, the Shelton-Pisgah Trail descends to a high gap and then makes the final ascent to the summit of Shelton-Pisgah Mountain. There is flagging tape at the summit. Although the summit is wooded, you will know that you have passed over it when the trail begins descending.The descent is slow, as the trail seems to become even more overgrown after the overlook. Thus, it is hard to descend faster than you ascended. The descent ends at 6.8 miles in a gap between Shelton-Pisgah Mountain and Cold Mountain. There are many different choices here, and there are two junctions. The first junction is just after a sharp right turn, where the Shelton-Pisgah Trail continues straight onto an old roadbed towards Cold Mountain and Canaan Land, while another trail turns left towards Panthertail Mountain. There is a very mind-boggling system of unknown and unmarked trails on Panthertail Mountain, and I will explain more in a little bit. But first, I would like to add that there is another junction a tad farther down the Shelton-Pisgah Trail. There, the Little Green Creek Trail turns right and descends along its namesake stream to the Devils Elbow Trail. Sounds familiar? I mentioned this trail earlier, and its beginning was visible on the Devils Elbow Trail. My plan at this point was to first visit Panthertail Mountain, then Cold Mountain, and then return via Little Green Creek. However, I got intrigued by the trail system on Panthertail Mountain, and I ended up not returning to this location. With that in mind, I will describe what I did next.
I turned left onto the trail to Panthertail Mountain at the first junction. Before long, an ascent resumes as the trail climbs Panthertail Mountain. At 7.25 miles, the trail reaches a T-type intersection that is a mere 60 feet lower than the summit of the mountain. A single stone marks the junction of trails. Using directions that I was given by one of my friends, I knew that I had to turn right to reach the vistas on the south side of Panthertail Mountain. I do not know for sure where the trail to the left goes, although I was told that it leads to the summit of Panthertail Mountain and then ends at another trail east of the vistas. I did not want to experiment at the moment, so I stuck to the directions I was given and turned right. The trail that turned right soon made two switchbacks, and after it descended 40 feet, the trail stayed level as it traveled eastwards along the south side of Panthertail Mountain. At 7.4 miles, I arrived at another junction, which intrigues me even now. Here, one trail beared left and continued east along the same contour line, while the "main" trail dropped off to the right and began descending steeply via switchbacks. I knew from the information that I was given, and out of common sense, that the vistas were on the trail that led left, but where did the trail to the right lead? I have no idea, but I can guess that it possibly ends somewhere in the Canaan Land retreat. To complicate things even more, there was quite a bit of flagging tape at the intersection, and something was handwritten on it, but I could not make out the writing. I was sure that I would return to this point later, so I did not try too hard to decipher the writing, and now, I regret that I didn't. I will appreciate it very much, if someone who reads this blog will leave in the comments some information about where the descending trail at the junction went.
From the junction described above, the eastward trail passes through a rhododendron tunnel before reaching the first vista at an open area at 7.5 miles. This isn't the best view on the mountain, but it's a good one. You can see the Toxaway River valley, Ravenrock Mountain, and farther south, Toxaway Mountain. Several pine trees obstruct the view though. Soon after this view, the trail makes a switchback, and then, at another switchback at 7.6 miles, where the main trail turns sharply left, a path continues straight to a steep cliff with a spectacular view. This is my favorite vista on Panthertail Mountain. From the cliff, there is an unobstructed view of the upper Toxaway River valley. Ravenrock Mountan and Hogback Mountain stand to the left of the valley. Far in the distance, a peak rises abruptly from a low ridge. I think that it may be Laurel Knob, with its renowned cliffs at the steep dropoff to the left of the peak. I'm not sure of this though.
After this view, there are still two more vistas on the mountain. The trail continues along the base of a tall bluff. There is a well-constructed wooden ladder that takes the trail a bit higher to a ledge on the terraced cliff at 7.7 miles. This ladder couldn't have gotten here by itself. Obviously, someone maintains or maintained this trail, although who manages it is still a mystery to me. Just after the ladder, there is another excellent view from the cliff that the trail had ascended onto. In fact, this view is almost better than the previous one. Ravenrock Mountain and its cliffs stand out straight ahead. A single large house stands in view on Ravenrock Mountain. Behind the mountain, Toxaway Mountain looms even higher, crowned by several transmission towers. To the left, the mountains turn into hills near Lake Toxaway. Lake Toxaway itself is visible through the trees. Far away to the right, Hogback Mountain can be seen on the same ridge as Toxaway Mountain.
By now, I had hiked a pretty long distance (nearly a mile) from the trail junctions near Cold Mountain, and the day was winding down, but I knew there was at least one more vista ahead with an unobstructed view of Lake Toxaway. At the same time, this trail was luring me in, tempting me to continue forward and find out where it leads. And so I did. The trail began to descend via many switchbacks, and the further I went, the less use it showed. Even though it was obvious that at one time the trail had been designed well, it was now in a half-abandoned state. After five switchbacks, I began to wonder if I would ever reach any vista, when at 7.95 miles, the trail arrived at it. This vista was not as great as it seemed on pictures, and I was a bit disappointed. There is a wide opening in the trees here, and you can see Lake Toxaway well, as well as some of the distant mountains. However, bushes are creeping up, so the lower part of the vista is obstructed, and sooner or later, the opening will probably grow over.
This fourth and final vista on Panthertail Mountain was my decision point. Should I turn around and retrace my steps, or should I continue forward and explore this intriguing trail (that still didn't end at the vista)? I was curious about where this trail would lead, so I decided to continue. In the end. I can say that it was wrong for me to do so, as the trail went very far east, ending almost at Lake Toxaway. As a result, I had to do a long uphill roadwalk at the end of the hike. For you, I suggest to return the way you came, and not to continue forward. If you return to Cold Mountain Gap the way you came (and using the more direct route on the Panthertown Valley Trail and not the Greenland Creek Trail), then you would be back at your car after hiking a total of 14.05 miles. There are other variations too. You could return via Little Green Creek, which would be a bit shorter. You could also return through Canaan Land, which is a lot shorter, although I'm not sure if hikers are allowed to come onto Canaan Land property this way. In fact, I wonder if the entire Panthertail Mountain trail system was developed by Canaan Land. I haven't found any sure answers yet. Regardless, I will describe the rest of the hike along the Panthertail Mountain trails below.
The Hike from Panthertail Mountain Eastward
After the final vista on Panthertail Mountain, the trail began to descend from the mountain in earnest. However, the descent wasn't too steep, due to many switchbacks. At 8.25 miles, the trail suddenly arrived at a most bizarre spectacle. Here, the trail first crossed a suspension bridge across a small ravine, and then it followed a long, new wooden footbridge with a sturdy railing along a nearly vertical cliff, which would have been otherwise impassable. What the heck? Such a large, costly, new bridge on a long abandoned and unknown trail? I have no way whatsoever to explain this, so I would appreciate it if anyone could give me some information about this.
I continued across the bridge, after which the trail nearly levelled out. At 2.4 miles, there was a very sharp switchback, and at 2.5 miles, I had a new riddle in front of me: the trail suddenly descended steeply to and ended at a wide left-to-right roadbed (perhaps a service road?). There was not a single sign anywhere, not even flagging tape. When I walked onto the roadbed, I noticed that a person hiking along the roadbed would not be able to easily see the slim footpath heading steeply up the slope. I did not have a map of any of these trails or roads, so my only tool was my GPS, which had a topo map of the area. I could see that if I took the road to the left (east), I would sooner or later end up at one of the neighborhood roads near Lake Toxaway. But what if I took the road west? Maybe it would lead out to Cold Mountain Road, or maybe it would lead somewhere back up to Panthertail Mountain, or maybe it would just dead end? With this difficult decision in front of me, I decided that I did not want to risk going west. At least there was a solid chance that I would end up on some sort of road if I went east. To this day, I still don't know where the road went westward, although I did walk along it for about 0.05 miles. I found nothing of interest there.
After I took the road east, it continued to descend off the mountain using painfully long switchbacks. Occasionally, I would notice what looked like "markers" - occasional piles of stones along the roadbed, or a large stone to mark a switchback. At 9.2 miles, this old roadbed crossed a new footbridge across a ditch (yes) and ended at a gravel road. There was not a single sign to mark the entrance to this "trail". At the time, I didn't know where the gravel roads leads west either, but now that I looked at it on Google Earth, it seems to dead end at a house construction site. I knew that if I took the gravel road to the left (east), I would end up on Panther Ridge Road, a residential road near Lake Toxaway. Seeing no other good option, I began to follow the gravel road east. There isn't much to say about the rest of the hike. The gravel road ended at Panther Ridge Road at 10 miles. There, I turned right on Panther Ridge Road. The entire road was a very steep descent to Cold Mountain Road and Lake Toxaway. I reached Cold Mountain Road at 11 miles. After this, I turned right onto Cold Mountain Road, and followed the road steadily uphill back to the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead. I finished the hike at 14.6 miles.
To summarize, I liked this hike a lot, although the ending was a bit disappointing. I did not like the 4.6 mile roadwalk, and plus, I did not get to find out a lot about the mysterious trails that weave around Panthertail Mountain. Now, it seems like the better choice would have been to return back to the Shelton-Pisgah Trail, and then return to the Cold Mountain Gap in a faster way. Still, despite the ending, there were a lot of waterfalls and scenic overlooks that made this hike a really great one with plenty to see. I highly recommend for hikers to explore the lesser-known gems of Pannthertown Valley, such as the lower waterfalls of the Tuckasegee River and the mountains at the east rim of the valley.
Please note: the mileage chart below is only until the fourth vista on Panthertail Mountain.
0.0 - Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead
1.2 - Greenland Creek Falls
1.9 - Mac's Falls
2.1 - Pothole Falls
3.0 - Schoolhouse Falls
3.4 - Powerline vista
4.25 - Riding Ford Falls
5.15 - Devils Elbow Trail end, beginning of Shelton-Pisgah Trail
6.0 - Overlook on Shelton-Pisgah Mountain
6.8 - Junctions in gap between Shelton-Pisgah Mountain and Cold Mountain
7.5 - First vista on Panthertail Mountain
7.6 - Second vista on Panthertail Mountain
7.7 - Third vista on Panthertail Mountain
7.95 - Fourth and final vista on Panthertail Mountain
Do a short loop hike to Greenland Creek Falls and Schoolhouse Falls - 4.3 Miles
Do a short loop hike to Greenland Creek Falls and Schoolhouse Falls, plus the side trip to Riding Ford Trails - 6.7 Miles
Return the same way (with Panthertown Valley Trail shortcut) from the last vista on Panthertail Mountain) - 14.05 Miles
Return to Cold Mountain Gap via Little Green Creek - Unknown Distance (I have not hiked the Little Green Creek Trail); however, it will be shorter than returning via Shelton-Pisgah Trail
Return to Cold Mountain Gap via Canaan Land - around 10.5 Miles
It is possible to add on the hike at Gorges State Park to the waterfalls on the Horsepasture River.
Year 1: 540.0 Miles
Year 2: 552.3 Miles
Year 3: 518.4 Miles
Year 4: 107.2 Miles