About This Park
Almost Heaven’s southernmost state forest, Panther State Forest occupies 7,810 rugged acres, and its heavily wooded surroundings offer a range of outdoor amenities. During the summer, visitors can cool off in the swimming pool or watch little ones splash in the wading pool. Picnic shelters are available for rent. Panther Creek is stocked with fresh trout, and in-season hunting is welcome in designated areas with proper licensing.
Panther State Forest gets its name from Panther Creek, a tributary of the Tug Fork where a pioneer reportedly killed a panther. It was established in 1940 after the Welch Daily News spearheaded a “Pennies for Panther” campaign that raised more than $9,000 in community donations.
Drift Branch Trail
This trail starts behind the Group Camp. (When the Group Camp is occupied the trail can be accessed from the footbridge downstream.) The first section is steep and follows a contour until the trail reaches a drain, then follows the drain. The trail crosses two roads and a powerline right of way. At the top of the hill the trail ends at the fire tower.
Distance: 1.7 miles
Twin Rocks Trail
The easiest trail in the forest, Twin Rocks starts on the Drift Branch Trail behind the Group Camp. (When the Group Camp is occupied the trail can be accessed from the footbridge downstream.) Twin Rocks veers right where Drift Branch leads around a contour. The trail then crosses a powerline right of way and leads down an old tram road and back onto the main road.
Distance: 0.75 miles
This trail can be accessed either from the campground or Georges Fork. The overlook structure has been removed but hikers can still find scenic views from the site.
Distance: 0.75 miles
As the least utilized trail in the forest, Loop Trail is hard to follow on several sections and is recommended for experienced hikers.
Distance: 2 miles
How about a nice picnic for a hot summer day? Panther has six shelters available for reservation by calling the office. Picnic areas vary, several have playgrounds, shelters, volleyball court, grills, picnic tables, and hand-pumps, and others are more tucked away with a fireplace and picnic table. Make a reservation for your next family get-together now!