If you've been looking to visit Panthertown Valley in Western North Carolina, there is a new guidebook on the market by Asheville photographer Todd Ransom, "Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley."
When visiting Panthertown, the trail network is complex, so it's crucial to the enjoyment of your time there to go in with a map or guide. Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley gives you both, and covers the main southern valley of Panthertown. The guide even ventures into the more wild Big Pisgah area to the northeast.
The guide opens up with a simple and easy to follow map for three main parking areas: Cold Mountain Gap, Salt Rock Gap, and Big Pisgah. What follows is topo maps with tracks and waypoints mapped by Todd Ransom himself.
What stands out immediately to me from these maps is locations of campsites. In the times I have visited Panthertown, trying to plan a backpacking trip has been difficult due to the lack of published resources designating campsite locations. This will be a great aid for any backpackers looking for more than a dayhike.
Beyond just being a guide to the valley, the author also gives the reader important sections on skills of navigation and staying found, as well as Leave No Trace principles. While this may seem redundant to some, the education is vitally important to be in the hands of would-be adventurers. Lack of knowledge is how campfires become wildfires, and how the over ambitious get lost and need Search and Rescue to find them. There is also a section on what kind of wildlife you may come across while in Panthertown, what to look for, and even notes on how to tie up a bear bag.
Throughout the guide you'll find beautiful photographs of Panthertown and it's waterfalls, all taken by Todd Ransom. The meat of the guide is divided into three sections: Devil's Elbow area, Big Green Mountain area, and Big Pisgah Mountain area. Within each of these, the waterfalls each have their own guide (note their locations on the included maps for planning your own hikes). Each waterfall is given distance, estimated time, difficulty (with elevation ascent and descent), and the description of the falls and how to get there. The waterfalls you'll find in the valley will range from the easy access and iconic Schoolhouse Falls, to the river wading Lichen Falls, to the wild and remote Dismal Falls and Panthertown Creek Falls. You will really find an amazing variety of waterfalls in this very compact area.
As a bonus, the author includes some non-waterfalls destinations such as Tranquility Point, Laurel Knob, and the Great Wall of Panthertown.
I mentioned previously using the maps to plan your own hikes. If that kind of planning isn't for you, there are also several suggested hikes in the guide, ranging from relaxed atmosphere to the go-getter.
Closing out the Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley guide is one of my favorite parts, history of the valley. While I'm hiking, I love to know some of the happenings that have gone on before me, who has blazed and cut the trails, and stories of those who have lived in the valley and features and landmarks were named after.
To finalize the book, there's a checklist index for you to keep track of your ramblings in the valley. At the time of my writing this, I have visited about half of the destinations. I'll be using this guide myself for my upcoming plans in Panthertown.
Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley belongs in the library of any explorer. The beautiful photography inspires you to use the guide and get out there and see those waterfalls for yourself! For anyone who wants to do more than scratch the surface of Panthertown, I highly recommend Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley to you. It will be a benefit to multi-day backpackers and family day hikers all the same.
Labels: FlickinAmazing, Guidebook review, Nantahala, North Carolina, Panthertown, Todd Ransom, Waterfalls of Panthertown Valley, WNC