Schoolhouse Falls in Panthertown Valley.
We decide to get an early start today to avoid the possible thunderstorms and also to beat the holiday crowds. We figured Panthertown Valley would be a good hike - lots of waterfalls, beautiful forest, and not a lot of people. Panthertown Valley is one of the most unique places in North Carolina. It consists of over 10,000 acres in the Nantahala National Forest and is comprised of a network of official trails, old logging roads and many unofficial trails. Even the "official" trails can be hard to follow - at this time none of the trails have a blaze and there are multiple shortcuts that can lead one astray. Always have a good map and a compass when attempting any hikes in this area. We got to the East Entrance (Cold Mountain Entrance) at 8:30 and there were only a handful of cars at the trailhead. Rich knows the trails in this area and has an original map showing some of the unmarked and unofficial trails so he led the way. And good thing he did - I would NEVER have found my way out. It wasn't a difficult hike at all - but at times the trail was merely a small path and sometimes led to a dead end, causing us to backtrack and take another path. But it was a great adventure (as usual!). We took the trail to Schoolhouse Falls and from there, took a path on the other side of the falls and followed the creek upstream. Once we left Schoolhouse Falls we didn't see another person the entire time - we had the other falls all to ourselves! Remarkable for a holiday weekend. We were going to make it a longer loop, but unfortunately, the thunder started, so we took a shortcut back to the road and to our car and back home. Can't wait for tomorrow's adventure - Twin Falls in the Pisgah!