Sat, Mar 7 2015 - Cohutta Wilderness - Cowpen Mountain and Panther Creek Falls (View Original Event Details)|
Despite not everything going to plan, our day in the Cohutta Wilderness was a great day of hiking. We couldn't have asked for nicer weather--not a cloud in the sky, high of 55F.
After fording through two 2-3 foot water crossings, our two vehicles were stopped short of the trailhead by a fallen tree. Luckily, we were only about 2 miles from the trailhead and it was quickly decided to hike the remaining road to the trailhead and abandon the Cowpen Mountain summit in hopes of balancing out the additional miles and elevation.
From the trailhead to the turnoff to Panther Creek Falls, the East Cowpen Trail was wide and a bit rocky. Obviously an old road. As expected the Cohuttas offered some nice winter views through the trees, melting icicles and brief spots of snow in the shaded areas.
Running behind schedule, we decided to eat in a grassy spot before descending down Panther Creek Trail.
The descent down Panther Creek Trail was very steep. Easily >1000 feet/mile in some places. Most of us were thinking, "this is going to be brutal coming back up". Not Mara, 'The Tigris', she was looking forward to it.
The trail in the area just above the falls is not particularly visible on account of all the human traffic. In addition, the journey required several log walks over streams.
Upon arriving, the stunning waterfall and the view of the Cohuttas made the long trip worth it! A few hikers ventured down the side of the falls to get a different view but most of us just relaxed. We departed after about 30 minutes in hopes that we could return to the cars by sunset.
The Panther Creek Trail ascent was indeed very strenuous but once at the top, the rest of the return trip was nearly all down hill.
GPS reports 17.7 miles and 3500 ft of elevation.
Our post hike dinner spot was at a popular local Mexican restaurant in Chatsworth.