Destination #1: Panther Creek Falls, GA.

After a solid five-and-a-half hour drive from Youngsville to Tallulah Falls, GA, I spent my first night of the trip camping at the Terrora Park Campground. The campground was pretty nice, with lots of trees to provide a buffer between each campsite. I got to test out my new hammock and slept like a baby.

The next morning I met up with Eric and Kim at the trailhead to Panther Creek Falls, just a short 5 minute drive south from Tallulah Falls. The 3.5 mile hike to the falls was moderately strenuous, particularly with heavy packs and the Georgia heat and humidity beating down on us, but the trail itself was gorgeous and we had the sound of running water to accompany us for the entire trip. The trail winds up and down above the creek for the first mile or so, with some really cool rock outcroppings along the way, before descending down to a more level section through the woods next to the creek for the second mile after which you reach the first set of falls. Continuing on, the next mile and a half of the trail got increasingly more difficult, with pretty steep inclines and often very narrow eroded sections next to steep drop offs to the creek down below. There are steel posts and cables installed along some of the more precarious sections, but I wouldn’t trust putting much weight on them. There were a couple of sections where trees had fallen across the trail and it was a tight squeeze to fit underneath them with our packs. The final section section of the trail at the falls was definitely the most difficult, but the payoff at the end was well worth it. The falls were absolutely gorgeous, with a nice little swimming hole and beach area at the bottom.

My only complaint would be how crowded it was – being that it was a Saturday with beautiful weather, there were tons of people out. This is obviously a very popular trail, and with that comes the downside of lots of people and an unfortunate amount of trash and litter. It’s surprising how little respect some people can have for such a beautiful spectacle of nature. We set out at about 10:30 (a little late) on Saturday and every campsite we passed along the trail was taken which had us worried for a bit. We were able to find a great spot just a short walk past the falls to set up camp, though.

Once it started getting a bit later in the day the area cleared out quite a bit and we were able to enjoy a more peaceful view and a nice refreshing shower under the falls. The entire area is goregous and sleeping next to the sound of running water was very peaceful, especially lying back in a hammock. The fireflies were out in full force as well which was a great site to see.

All-in-all, it was a great experience and one I’d highly recommend for anyone who doesn’t mind putting in a little work for a nice payoff. Camp if you can, and if you want to pack light (and the forecast looks good) ditch the tent and bring a hammock.

I took some great shots but due to a combination of some cumbersome technology and user error, I sort of lost or deleted the majority of my favorites. Oops. Check out the gallery below for a few of the ones that were spared.

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