Carlton Falls - Panthertown Valley
Carlton Falls

10-13-17  Carlton Falls may be my favorite waterfall in Panthertown Valley. It has a lot of character and offers a wide variety of photo ops when water flow is good. The trail along Greenland Creek to Carlton Falls and beyond is not an official forest service trail, but is traveled enough to make it fairly obvious to most who have hiking experience. The first part is extremely steep and the rest is very narrow as it winds it's way through the dog hobble, rhododendron, and laurel. Tall people will be doing a lot of ducking under branches. Be prepared to get your feet wet to get some of the best views. On my last visit where all of these pictures were taken, I was up to my ankles and shins several times to get the shots I wanted. Just remember that wet rocks can be very slippery! It's about a mile from Greenland Creek Falls up to Carlton Falls and you'll also get to see Halfway Falls and other cascades along the way.

Just as the trail to Greenland Creek Falls comes to the base of that falls, look to the left and you'll notice a trail that continues up. The first part of this trail is very steep, but there are a lot of roots and rocks to step on and hold on to. Once you get past the steep part, the trail heads back down towards the top of the Greenland Creek Falls. It comes out at a rock you will have to negotiate to continue on the trail. At this point you will be in a bend in the creek and if water levels aren't too high, you may be able to get out on dry rock for a better look. Use common sense here. Do not go out close to the top of the waterfall! This is how people die at waterfalls and if you fall you will die also. The next 2 pictures are what you'll see from this bend in the creek.

top of Greenland Creek Falls - Panthertown Valley

cascade on Greenland Creek - Panthertown Valley

The very narrow trail continues to follow the creek up the left side. On my last visit in October 2017, the freshly fallen leaves on the trail made it hard to spot in places, but someone had recently added flagging tape along the way to make the trek easier. Don't count on this tape to be there when you go. The trail isn't straight - it constantly meanders through the shrub. At about 1/4 mile past the top of Greenland Creek Falls, the trail comes to a small cascade and shortly afterwards will bear left to follow a small tributary up creek. It soon crosses that tributary, then comes back down to pick up Greenland Creek once again. At about 1/2 mile from the top of the falls, the trail passes Halfway Falls. Look for some flat rocks out in the creek before the falls to get out on for this zoomed view of the falls.

Halfway Falls - Panthertown Valley
Halfway Falls

From Halfway Falls, continue on the trail for another 1/2 mile to the base of Carlton Falls. A short side trail on the right leads out to the creek and some very large boulders which will give you the view in the first picture on this page. From here you can't help but notice the big rock undercut on the right side of the falls. The next shot was taken from under there.

Carlton Falls - Panthertown Valley

To get to the upper section of the waterfall, come back out to the trail and continue up a short distance. On a dry day, it's very safe to get out on the rock for a closer look at this excellent waterfall. This part of the waterfall is in 2 sections before it slides down some smooth rock and over the lower section. The trail continues up past this point and according to the excellent Burt Kornegay map, continues over Hogback mountain, then back down to Mac's Gap Trail. I haven't been this way, but it looks like it would make an excellent loop hike from the Mac's Gap Trail head.

Carlton Falls - Panthertown Valley

Carlton Falls - Panthertown Valley

Carlton Falls - Panthertown Valley

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