“perennial tiered horsetail falls”
Visually Panther Creek Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls in all of the United States. Found where Panther Creek plunges over a pair of steps in its valley, the creek begins by rushing towards the upper cliff, with a small portion of the creek splitting off from the main flow and plunging directly over the edge. The remaining 90 percent of the stream makes a hard right turn and follows a natural trough along the top of the cliff, contouring around the top of the horseshoe-shaped basin until reaching the far side, then plunging in a twisting fall for 69 feet to the bottom of the first step. Immediately adjacent to the main stream a large spring sends a broad veil of water sheeting 102 feet down the side of the canyon. After the collective waters of these streams merge, they plunge over the second tier in three distinct channels, falling 30 feet into a pool, with a broad 4-foot ledge immediately below to culminate the formation. Without visual aids to illustrate the scene it's quite complicated to imagine and grasp the complexity and eclecticism. The upper tier of the falls is viewed from a well designed viewing deck which was constructed recently with a new trail to alleviate much of the hazard of visiting this waterfall which existed previously. There is no developed route to the base of the falls and the "path" which leads there is quite sketchy, involving scaling down a nearly vertical cliff of about 15-feet in height. We do not recommend attempting to reach the bottom of the falls without having experience in off-trail scrambling (and bringing a rope might be a good idea as well).
The hike down to the falls put me completely out of my comfort zone but was entirely worth it. The power of these falls is absolutely breath taking. It was raining so the trail was a bit dangerous in some areas. I would recommend good hiking boots and rain proof gear if you’re going on this adventure during the rainy season. Excited to come back in the summer to revisit the beauty of this magical place.
If you follow the Google Maps directions it will take you slightly past the correct parking area. About .1 mile before the Google destination you will see a large gravel pull-out/parking area on your right. Follow the road down the canyon for 50 yards or so and you'll see a small trail leading down to a platform overlook. The trail itself is very short, definitely the most magnificent falls I've seen!
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Panther Creek Falls
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