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Panthertown Loop

Intermediate/Difficult
 3.6 (5) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

12.0

Miles

19.3

KM

50%

Singletrack

4,440' 1,353 m

High

3,649' 1,112 m

Low

1,523' 464 m

Up

1,515' 462 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

22%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Unknown

Overview

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. Many prefer clockwise because it offers more downhill trail riding and more uphill fire roads.

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.

Description

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.

CLOCKWISE DIRECTIONS - From Salt Rock Gap
Take Blackrock Trail #447 up for 2mi. The beginning is fairly rooty and leads to a few very steep sections. After long downhill turn right on Powerline Road Trail #451 If doing just a half loop, turn right on North Road Trail #453, otherwise stay on Powerline Road Trail #451 until Panthertown Valley Trail #474 - East. (This is mostly an uphill fire road and probably the least interesting section.)

After passing through the Parking lot at Cold Mountain Gap, turn right onto Mac's Gap Trail #482 for a fun 3.3 mile ride until turning left on Panthertown Valley Trail #474 - West to return to Salt Rock Gap parking area. (0.9 Mile uphill fire road)

COUNTER CLOCKWISE DIRECTIONS - 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Mark O'Neal with improvements by Robert Watkins

Trail Ratings

  3.6 from 5 votes

#2959

Overall
  3.6 from 5 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
60%
3 Star
40%
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1 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#114

in North Carolina

#2,959

Overall
98 Views Last Month
4,027 Since Nov 11, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
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33%
33%
33%
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Photos

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

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
Minor Issues 3 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Mar 15, 2021
Samantha Hatfield
Sep 4, 2020
Robert Watkins
6mi — 1h 05m
Jul 17, 2020
Joe Jacobs
Jun 7, 2020
Robert Watkins
18mi — 2h 44m
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.