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Panthertown Loop



12.0 mile 19.3 kilometer loop
50% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,523' 464 m
Descent: -1,515' -462 m
High: 4,440' 1,353 m
Low: 3,649' 1,112 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Trail shared by Mark O'Neal

The Panthertown Loop combines the best of what the area has to offer in a 12-mile ride.

Mark O'Neal

Electric Mountain Bikes Unknown

Features -none-


Get away from the crowds and experience the remote wilderness of Western North Carolina. This is probably the most frequently done loop in Panthertown. It can be ridden either way but seems to be most commonly traveled counter-clockwise.

Need to Know

  • Historically Panthertown was known to have poorly marked trails and a difficult place to navigate. Getting lost here was common place. Nowadays, the trails are relatively well-marked and signs are present at most trail junctions. However, keep the MTB Project mobile app handy or take a paper map with you just in case.
  • Mountain biking is not the primary user group here. All of the trails are multi-use and many of the trails in the area are hiking-only. Keep an eye out for hikers at all times.


This loop gives you a little bit of everything Panthertown has to offer. Steeps, roots, rocks, ruts, flow, and creeks. A bit like Pisgah but not quite as hard and there are fewer people to contend with.

Park at either Salt Rock Gap at the end of Breedlove Road (mapped as start for this Featured Ride) or Cold Mountain Gap at the end of Cold M Rd.

From Salt Rock Gap, take the Panthertown Valley Trail #474 - West down into the valley. After it flattens out, take a right on Mac's Gap Trail #482. Follow the singletrack through a potentially deep creek crossing that often requires a dismount.

Turn left at Cold Mountain Gap to follow the road through the parking lot where the end of Panthertown Valley Trail #474 - East starts. Take this back into the valley. Turn right on the Powerline Road Trail #451 and follow it until the ridgeline. Turn left to stay on the Powerline Road Trail #451 and follow this until a four-way intersection.

Head left on the Blackrock Trail #447 for a fun climb and then descent that's all singletrack. You'll be reminded of Pisgah riding on this somewhat challenging trail (it's not too difficult, but by this point in the ride it will feel more demanding). The singletrack will take you all the way back down to the Salt Rock Gap parking area.

Note: If you want to go directly between Salt Rock Gap and Cold Mountain Gap, the center of the Panthertown Valley Trail is hiking-only. Divert to the North Road Trail #453 instead.


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May 23, 2020
Robert Watkins
Much more fun when ridden clockwise — 2h 15m
Jul 5, 2019
Robert Watkins
Begging leg is overgrown and wet — 3h 00m
Oct 21, 2018
Rose Digianantonio
Jul 29, 2018
Tim Werdmann
A few muddy spots, but overall decent conditions.

Trail Ratings

  3.6 from 5 votes


  3.6 from 5 votes
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in North Carolina


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Panthertown Valley Trail at Salt Gap scenic overlook.
Jul 17, 2018 near Cullowhee, NC
Fern garden atop ridge on Blackrock Trail.
Jul 17, 2018 near Cullowhee, NC
View from the nearby Blackrock Mountain overlook.
Nov 11, 2017 near Cullowhee, NC


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