Schoolhouse Falls

Categories: Play, Hiking & Backpacking, Mountain Biking, Waterfalls, Backcountry Camping, Hikes to waterfalls, Swimming Holes, Panthertown Valley, Adventure Waterfalls


  •  One of the most popular waterfalls in the area and most picturesque 
  •  Kid/Pet Friendly 
  •  Large pool for swimming 
  •  Easy hike via the East Parking Area to Panthertown Valley 
  •  Rare and Endangered plant life around falls 
  •  Walk behind the falls via the "rock house" 
  •  Multiple hiking, camping, fishing and exploring opportunities nearby
  •  We suggest printing the map of Panthertown Valley for reference

The Local Scoop

We would like to strongly recommend Schoolhouse Falls because of it's picturesque setting. This area has a large plunge pool that makes for an excellent way to cool off in the summer months. For those who come for the pictures, a morning visit to the falls would be the best time. You can access the falls by a couple of hiking/access trailheads; the Panthertown Valley Trail #474 (East) or Panthertown Valley Trail #474 (West).  
East Trailhead
The shorter of the two would be accessing the East trailhead.  The hike is approx. 1.4 miles (one-way) from this side of the valley and is relatively easy.  The East side of the Panthertown Valley Trail is open to both Hikers and Mountain Bikers.  However, at approx. 0.2 mile from the parking area, the trail is open to Horseback Riding but you CAN NOT start out on horseback from the trailhead.  If you are interested in this trail for horseback riding, you'll need to access it from the West Parking Area for Panthertown Valley and pick up the main Panthertown Valley Trail #474 (West) (see below).  Pick up the PV Trail #474 at the end of the East parking area, next to the information kiosk you'll see in the photo gallery.  You'll also notice a brown U.S. Forest Service sign with PV Trail #474 posted on it. This trail leads you down and over a small creek via footbridge.  After crossing this bridge there will be a large "switchback" in the trail.  Here, you'll notice some "side trails."  These will sometimes provide a short cut to where you're going, sometimes not.  We strongly recommend sticking to the main trails mentioned here on our site and on the map you will find both here and at the East & West Parking Areas for the Valley.  After avoiding the side trails, continue working your way down until you come to Greenland Creek, a larger creek than the one you crossed before.  Cross via the large bridge and take the immediate left.  This is Little Green Trail #485.  You are only a couple minutes from the falls.  Hike across the swampy soil via the boardwalk and you're practically there.   
West Trailhead
The hike of 2.41 miles (one-way) from the West Parking Area to Panthertown Valley via Breedlove Road is a rather easy one. You'll start out from the parking lot on Panthertown Valley Trail #474 (just past the iron gate) downhill for approx. 0.25 mile or 5-10 minutes, stopping at Salt Rock Gap on your Left for pics and fantastic views of the valley/peaks (Big Green Mtn., Little Green Mtn., Cold Mtn., Big Pisgah Mtn and Black Rock Mtn.) in front of you. Continue downhill passing an intersecting trail on your right (Deep Gap Trail #449) at 0.55 mile. In another 0.25 mile you'll be at a four-way intersection which you will stay straight and continue downhill on the sandy/gravel trail to where you'll eventually level off and Panthertown Creek joins you on your right. There is a nice sandbar on this stretch of trail to explore or even have a picnic or snack on. There will be another intersecting trail on your right to avoid (this is Green Valley Trail #484). Continue on, bearing to the right and eventually crossing Panthertown Creek via footbridge and avoiding yet another intersecting trail that goes off to your Left (Powerline Road Trail #451). Now you're on the home stretch and only 0.6 mile to the falls. In 0.4 mile or 10-15 minutes you'll see an intersecting trail on your right with (what was there the last visit I made) a very small sign saying Schoolhouse Falls with a tiny arrow on it. You will also see a bridge directly in front of you, do not cross the bridge but take the right onto what is Little Green Trail #485 and on to Schoolhouse Falls in 0.2 miles. You'll hike over a boardwalk that keeps you out of a marsh area and you're practically there.
Just ahead, you will hear the falls and with a little exploring you will find the path that leads behind them.  Please be careful not to step on any vegetation behind the falls.  Rare and endangered species of plant life make this unique environment their home. If you have limited time for your hike simply return to the East or West Parking area, depending upon which way you came in. If you have extra time or even planning on camping then we suggest checking out the other POIs in Panthertown Valley  including Little Green Mountain Summit that is 0.3 mile from Shcoolhouse Falls (but steep).
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 of Panthertown Valley, 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).

The Local Directions

East Parking Area 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.

West Parking Area 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. You can either park here (if you have a low or nicer car) or you can proceed on rough gravel/mud road to main parking area at entrance to the valley. After you reach the main parking area (via foot- 10 minute walk OR car- 0.25 mile) you'll come to a Info Kiosk with a map of the valley in it and a gate across the trailhead. Be sure to take a look at the map and correspond the trails and their #'s with the ones in my local scoop. Finding Panthertown Valley Trail #474 and Little Green Trail #485. Return to the parking area the same way you hiked in.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Bike3 (East or West)What's this?
  • Camp8What's this?
  • Hike4 (East) 5 (West)What's this?
  • Horse4 (West trailhead only)What's this?
35.1632, -83.0065
Hike Distance
1.4 miles from the East (one-way)
2.41 miles from the West (one-way)
Moderately difficult from both parking areas
Nearest City
Jackson County
Distance From
Cashiers, 10.01 miles (West Parking Area for Panthertown Valley)
Cashiers, 21.9 miles (East Parking Area for Panthertown Valley)