Wilderness Falls Trail #490

Categories: Hiking & Backpacking, Waterfalls, Hikes to waterfalls, Dog Friendly Hiking Trails, Fishing for Wild Trout, Panthertown Valley, Adventure Waterfalls


  •  60-70 ft. tall cascading waterfall 
  •  Short hike to the falls 
  •  Nice view from the bottom 
  •  One of the many hidden gems of Panthertown Valley 
  •  Multiple hiking, camping, fishing and exploring opportunities nearby
  •  We suggest downloading and printing the Panthertown Valley map before going


The Local Scoop

Wilderness Falls is sometimes overlooked by folks visiting this area. We recommend seeing this set of falls bacause of the enormous rock face in which it cascades off of creating a different water effect than any of the other falls in the valley. There is a nice area to view the falls from the bottom but you will have to navigate onto one of the large boulders found at the bottom pool. From here you will be able to snap some pictures of the falls which are best taken late in the day for this particular one.
Getting there
From the West Parking Area for Panthertown Valley, you will head down Panthertown Valley Trail #474 (West) (viewable at the kiosk before passing the iron gate) for approx. 0.2 mile to a newly ('11) marked trail on your Right, just before Salt Rock Gap. This is Wilderness Falls Trail #490.
Hike slightly downhill for approx. ten to fifteen minutes to where you can hear the falls just ahead. The last time I was here I explored the area and found the very top of the falls that can be found once you get to the first clearing you come to at a rock face. Again, you can hear the falls so it's fairly easy to find. However, the view can be a dangerous one to try and achieve so we recommend continuing down the trail until you reach the bottom area of the falls.  
Note:  when you come to the rock outcropping or face around 10-12 minutes, look straight down the rock where you'll see a hole in the rhododendron canopy.. the trail continues here.
At the bottom, you'll need to be careful again when accessing one of the large boulders, the mist and splashing water can make the surface slippery. Take some time here with your camera... you'll be glad you did.
After viewing, continue down the Wilderness Falls Trail # 490 until you reach the wider Deep Gap Trail # 449.
To your Right is Frolictown Falls and Frolictown Creek. We do not recommend "fording" or crossing the creek to continue on Deep Gap Trail to your Right.  Instead, we recommend viewing the falls, one of our favorites. Head Left from the falls for 0.1 mile where you will see an intersecting trail going downhill and to your Right. This is Great Wall Trail #489. Do not take this unless you feel comfortable modifying these directions.
Getting back to your car
Continue up hill and straight for approx. 10 minutes to join back up with the main Panthertown Valley Trail #474. Here, turn Left and up hill back towards Salt Rock Gap and the West Parking Area for Panthertown Valley. It's 0.55 mile back to the parking lot.

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).

The Local Directions

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 Wilderness Falls Trail #490 for this hike.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike7What's this?
  • Waterfalls7What's this?
Trailhead:  35.16710, -83.03643
Hike Distance
0.9 mile (one-way)
Moderate via West Parking Area for Panthertown Valley
Nearest City
Jackson County
Distance From
Cashiers: 8.5 miles
(West Entrance to Valley)