About This Park

Panther State Forest is West Virginia's southernmost state forest and occupies 7,810 rugged acres where you can escape in nature and enjoy a range of outdoor amenities. During the summer, visitors can cool off in the swimming pool or watch their kids splash in the wading pool. Picnic shelters are available for reservation.

Panther State Forest is also a great place to enjoy hunting and fishing. Designated areas in the forest are open to hunting and Panther Creek is stocked seasonally with trout. All hunters and anglers must have a valid West Virginia hunting or fishing license and stamps and follow all regulations.

Accommodations

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Activities

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  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • DeerViewing
    Hunting
  • Outdoor Adventures
  • Swimming
Attraction is located outside of the park.

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. 

Trails

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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

Panther State Forest has three picnic shelters and one gazebo available to rent April 1 to Nov. 1. Picnic shelters have electricity, playground areas, grills and picnic tables. Several have water access, horseshoe pits, a volleyball net and pit toilets. Make a reservation for your next family get-together by calling the forest office.

Panther State Forest has other picnic areas available for free on a first-some, first-served.

Sandy Bottom Shelter
This large shelter features water and electricity, large open field, grills, playground, equipment, vault toilet and horseshoe pits.

Georges Fork Shelter
This is the last shelter in the forest before the campground. Georges Fork has electricity, a large open field, playground, horseshoe pits and volleyball net. The grill is next to the shelter and a pit toilet is located in the back. Potable water is unavailable. Parking across the road and access via a foot bridge.

Bonner Field Shelter
This shelter is located at the entrance of Panther State Forest, is a large shelter with water and electricity. This shelter has an open field for activities.  Bonner Field has a grill, playground equipment, horseshoe pits, volleyball net, and pit toilets.  This shelter is perfect for groups wanting to be close to the swimming pool.  A single track trail follows Panther Creek from the shelter area to the road opposite the swimming pool.

Cow Shed Gazebo
The gazebo is smaller and perfect for intimate weddings, small gatherings, or a private picnic for two. Three picnic tables sit nearby for additional seating. Electric or water is unavailable at the gazebo.

 

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