Over 30 miles of trail ramble through the tranquil woods at Panther Creek State Park. Some hug the banks of the Cherokee Lake, some explore the depths of the forest, while others stretch across open fields. There's singletrack, both wide and tight, mowed paths, plus a few old roads. The circuit of looped trails connect to each other allowing you to increase or decrease your mileage. Terrain varies from rock gardens to rolling hills and from easy to strenuous. Hike, run, mountain bike or ride a horse — there's something for everyone. While hikers have access to all 30 miles of trails, 15 miles are shared with mountain bikers. Equestrians are allowed on 14 miles of hiking trails.
Hiking Only Trails
Norris Blackburn Trail: This 0.2 mile one-way trail climbs a short, moderately steep trail to the park's wildlife observation deck. Excellent for listening to owl calls in the early evening.
Road to Recycling Trail: This easy 1.1 mile one-way, interpretive trail educates hikers on the benefits of conserving our natural resources. Won the 2004 Governor's Greenways and Trails Stewardship Award.
Ore Mine Trail: Moderate in difficulty due to a series of short, steep hills, this 1.5 mile loop was named for the manganese mining operations that were in the area in the early 1800's. Manganese had an important property that was used in the production of steel and glass making.
Lost Road Trail: Following along the old "goat paths" that early settlers used in the 1900's, this moderate to strenuous, 3.5 mile loop steeply ascends River Ridge passing by stone foundations and privy depressions from old homesteads. Deer are often spotted along this trail.
Seven Sinkholes Trail: An easy 0.6 mile trail that meanders around seven distinct sinkholes then winds through a lush valley of cedar and pine. Sinkholes develop when rainfall dissolves the under-layer of porous limestone rock. Cavities are formed which then gradually enlarge to create sinkholes.
Ridge Crest Trail: This strenuous 0.7 miles one-way trail snakes it's way down the Hunt Knob ridge over to the shoreline. At the lower end of the trail, you have an option to pick up the Hunt Knob trail or continue on to the shores of Cherokee Lake where you're afforded wonderful lake front views.
Point Lookout Trail: This moderately strenuous trail steeply ascends from an elevation of 400 feet above the lake's shoreline to the highest elevation in the park at 1,460 feet. There are many outstanding vistas along this 1.2 mile loop.
Mountain Biking and hiking Trails
Old Wagon Trail: This 0.8 mile trail is the most popular trail in the Park. All ages and skill levels follow this trail as it contours Panther Creek.
Piney Cove Trail: Winding through tall pines, this 0.6 mile trail is a connector trail between Panther Path and the Old Farm trails. This is an excellent beginner mountain bike trail.
Deer Run Trail: Contouring the Lake, this 0.8 mile connector trail meanders around a series of curves and short, gentle hills as a connector trail from the Panther Path trail to the Trout Lily Trail.
Old Farm Trails: Excellent trail for viewing wildflowers and songbirds, this easy trail features a 1.0 mile inner loop and a 1.5 mile outer loop. The inner loop gently winds through cedar glades and bramble fields — think blackberries in summer! While the outer loop travels to the Pioneer Trail through open fields dotted with hardwood and pine stands.
Trout Lily Trail: Sections of this tail wind around the lake shoreline. This 2.0 mile moderate trail is the most techincal trail in the park for mountain bikers due to its rooty and rocky terrain.
Panther Path Trail: Easy 2.0 mile loop winds through open fields and through shaded stands of hardwood.
Pioneer Trail: Winding through a pine and cedar forest, wildlife viewers will enjoy this 2.6 mile moderate loop.
Equestrian and hiking trails
Hunt Knob Trail: This 7.0 mile loop is the longest trail in the Park. With short, steep hills and one very steep ascent, the trail is rated moderate to strenuous. A flat, easy section of trail follows the perimeter of the Lake for 5 miles before ascending the more strenuous section of the trail to the ridge of Hunt Knob. This trail is only accessible from the horse trail parking area.
Maple Arch Trail: More short, steep hills with a very steep ascent make this 3.5 mile loop moderate to strenuous in its rating. The trail's canopy of red and silver Maple trees give this trail its name as they form an arched pathway. Much of the trail contours the shoreline before its ascent to River Ridge. This trail is only accessible from the horse trail parking area.