About This Park

Panther State Forest, located on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky, is the state’s southernmost state forest. It occupies 7,810 rugged acres, and its heavily wooded surroundings offer a range of outdoor amenities like camping, hiking trails, scenic overlooks, fishing, picnicking, swimming and hunting.

Panther State Forest

Things to Do


859 attraction is located outside of the park.
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • 859
    Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • 859
    Outdoor Adventures
  • Swimming

History

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. 

Accommodations

Camping

Panther State Forest has an improved rustic campground with six campsites. The campsites alongside Panther Creek, have electrical hookups, fireplaces and picnic tables with water access  available at the park office about 2.5 miles from the campground. West Virginia State Park campground reservations are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day each year. Campgrounds are open on a first-come, first-serve basis through October 31.

Group Camping

Panther has a group camp consisting of a 60-person barracks-style house and a main building with a modern kitchen, fireplace and a large open area for meetings and banquets. The group camp area has a large, open field with a volleyball and basketball court, a campfire ring with benches, and hiking trail access to the fire tower and swimming pool. Reservations are required so call ahead before you plan to visit.

Trails

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
Difficulty Difficult

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
Difficulty Moderate

Overlook Trail

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
Difficulty Difficult

Loop Trail

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
Difficulty Difficult

 

Additional Information

Picnicking

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!

Nearby Attractions

Berwind Lake Wildlife Management Area

This 85-acre recreation area is known for deer, racoon, squirrel and turkey hunting. It is centered on 20-acre Berwind Lake, which is stocked with trout seasonally.

R.D. Bailey Lake and Wildlife Management Area

Set on 17,280 acres, this WMA is a popular hunting location for black bear, deer (bow only), grouse, squirrel and turkey. Overnight accommodations include 169 tent campsites. You can find the WMA centered on the 630-acre R.D. Bailey Lake, which is stocked with trout.

 

 

Photos

Find a Park

  • Activity
  • Region
  • Lodging