We recommend using the North Road Trail #453 to Hikers, Bikers or Horseback Riders either accessing the much longer Powerline Road Trail #451, or for Mountain Bikers and Horseback Riders trying to avoid the "Hiker Only" section of the Panthertown Valley Trail #474. This relatively short and flat trail is actually an old road bed that runs directly under the sheer cliffs of Blackrock Mountain. The wide trail is great for anyone, whether you're a hiker, biker or horseback rider. This trail is approx. 1.3 miles in length and intersects the Powerline Road Trail #451 on it's East side and Panthertown Valley Trail #474 on the West.
We recommend utilizing this trail from either parking entrance to the Valley for mountain bikers. There are numerous waterfalls, etc. in the Valley that we recommend seeing. However, you should know that the U.S. Forest Service has designated a certain portion of Panthertown Valley Trail #474 as "Hiker Only." This is where the North Road Trail #453 comes in handy for a detour and access from the East Parking Area for PV to "West waterfalls" like "Wilderness Falls," "Frolictown Falls," & "Granny Burrell Falls." And access from the West Parking Area for PV to "East waterfalls" like "Schoolhouse Falls," Warden's Falls," "Jawbone Falls" & "Riding Ford Falls." (see my local directions below for more details depending upon which parking area you plan on using)
You will only be able to access the Valley from the "West Parking Area for Panthertown Valley." Having said that, you too will need to pay attention on how to access both ends of this trail. We recommend exploring the East side of the Valley and to do that you will need to use the North Road Trail #453 as a successful detour around the "Hiker Only" portion of the Panthertown Valley Trail #474. (see my local directions below for more details on how to get back to the West Parking Area)
NOTE: We recommend researching the Panthertown Valley area before coming and also suggest not coming by yourself or without a map. This area is "wild" and the trail system is unmarked, you can get lost very easily if you don't know where you're going. Our best suggestion is to download and print the map we provide on this site, find the trail(s) you are interested in and plan out your day accordingly. You need to avoid any side trails you come across (and you'll come across a lot of them).
West Parking Entrance for Panthertown Valley
From the main intersection of U.S. Hwy 64 and N.C. Hwy 107 in Cashiers, N.C. take Hwy 64 East (towards Brevard) for 2 miles to "Cedar Creek Road" on your Left (crossing the Horsepasture River). Take Cedar Creek Road for 2.3 miles to "Breedlove Road" (S.R. 1121 or "State Road") on your Right. There will be a sign for Panthertown Valley at the Stop Sign. Take the Right and travel 3.3 miles to the end of the pavement for Breedlove Rd and where the rough, gravel road begins. Either park at the cul-de-sac here or continue on the rough but short gravel/mud road to the main parking area. Pick up the North Road Trail #453 by accessing the Panthertown Valley Trail #474 just beyond the info kiosk and iron gate at the end of the main parking area. Continue on this wide path for approx. 0.8 mile to a four-way intersection (passing Wilderness Falls Trail #490, Salt Rock Gap and Deep Gap Trail #449). At the intersection take the Left onto the North Road Trail #453.
East Parking Entrance for Panthertown Valley
From Cashiers, NC take U.S. Hwy-64 East towards Brevard or Asheville, NC for 12.7 miles to the junction of NC Hwy-281 and U.S. Hwy-64. Take NC Hwy-281 North for 3.6 miles to "Cold Mountain Road" on your left (just past Lake Toxaway Fire House on the right). After taking the left onto Cold Mountain Road, continue along the twisting turns as you work past numerous lake homes and their drives and up the mountain. At 5.6 miles since you left NC Hwy-281 you'll see private property and a gated drive on the right, avoid this. To the left and uphill is the gravel access road to the valley, here is where you'll see the sign for Panthertown Valley. This will be the first sign of any sort you will see for the valley. After approx. 0.1/0.2 mile up the gravel road, it will fork again. Take the right and onto the access road to the East Parking Area. Note: This road had a large mud puddle in the middle of it the last time I was there. I had to park my car to the side and walk the short distance to the main parking area, about 0.1 mile. No problem. At the end of the parking area, look for a skinny brown forest service sign reading, "Panthertown Valley Trail #474." You'll need to take this trail into the Valley to reach the West side waterfalls, etc. mentioned above in my local scoop. After approx. 1.2 miles you'll be at "Greenland Creek Bridge." Continue over this bridge remaining on PV Trail #474 for another 0.5 mile. The trail is wide through here but can be rather muddy at times, just FYI. At 0.5 mile you'll intersect Panthertown Creek via footbridge. Cross here. After across the creek, look for a trail on the right hand side. This is Powerline Road Trail #451. If you're a biker (accessing from the East) or horseback rider (returning to the West Parking Area), you'll need to take this trail due to the regulations prohibiting you from continuing along the PV Trail #474. After taking the right, travel another 0.3 mile to where the North Road Trail #453 will come in on your left.