Panther Creek State Park is a 1,435-acre park in the stunning mountain country of Tennessee. Nestled in the Cherokee Reservoir, in the historic Holston River Valley, Panther Creek State Park stands on the shore of Cherokee Lake. This park offers a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities with over 17 hiking trails, over 15 miles of mountain biking trails, and two horseback riding trails.
This year-round state park offers guests a tranquil respite in mountainous beauty. Due to its location beside Cherokee Lake and its name sake, Panther Creek, recreational opportunities abound. Guests can partake in water sports including swimming in the outdoor pool in summer months. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding can be enjoyed year round. The park also offers disc golf on a 18 hole championship level course and superb fishing.
Panther Creek State Park offers 50 campsites with water and electric hookup. The campground can accommodate RV/trailers up to 65 ft in length, and reservations may be made up to 12 months in advance of travel. Guests will revel in the beauty of the park and will easily find recreational options to their liking.
RV Rentals in Panther Creek State Park
Transportation in Panther Creek State Park
From Knoxville, take US-11E north for 36 miles to TN-342W, i.e., Panther Creek Road in Morristown. After seven miles, take a right into the park at Panther Creek Park Road and follow signs to the campsites
Parking is available throughout the park. Horse trailers must use the parking area off Panther Creek Road, just to the west of Boat Ramp Road.
There is no public transportation available within the park.
Campgrounds and parking in Panther Creek State Park
Campsites in Panther Creek State Park
Panther Creek is a breathtaking area to make camp. Surrounded by water with Cherokee Lake and Panther Creek, the space has 50 campsites complete with water and electrical hookups. Campsites include grills, picnic tables, and fire rings. The campground offers a bathhouse facility and a coin operated laundromat. There are two bathhouse facilities providing hot showers, commodes and lavatories. The campground also provides guests with a dump station for self-contained trailer rigs. Maximum stay is two weeks.
Guests may make reservations up to 12 months in advance and should note that only certified heat treated firewood is allowed in this state park.
Seasonal activities in Panther Creek State Park
Guests will find a wide variety of hiking options in this stunning park. Guests can choose from hiking only and multi-use trails. The following are a list of hiking only trails.
Norris Blackburn Trail: This half-mile one-way trail climbs a short, moderately steep hill to the park's wildlife observation deck. This trail offers excellent opportunities to hear owl calls in early evening hours.
Road to Recycling Trail: This easy one-mile one-way, interpretive trail won the 2004 Governor’s Greenways and Trials Stewardship Award. It provides education to hikers on the benefits of nature conservation.
Ore Mine Trail: Moderate in difficulty, this one and a half-mile loop trail offers series of short, steep hills. The trail was named for the manganese mining operations that existed in the area in the early 1800's. Manganese was mined here and 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, two-mile loop steeply ascends River Ridge. Guests that tackle this trail will notice stone foundations and privy depressions from original homesteads. Guests frequently see deer along this trail.
Seven Sinkholes Trail: This easy half-mile trail weaves 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 three-quarter-mile one-way trail snakes its 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 along the shores of Cherokee Lake with its tranquil beauty.
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. Astonishing vistas abound along this two-mile loop.
Swimming and boating
Panther Creek State Park offers guests a variety of water recreational options. The park touts boating options on Cherokee Lake, swimming in the park's outdoor pool, and wading along the Panther Creek.
The pool at Panther Creek State Park is open from the end of May through the beginning of August. The pool is open Wed-Sat from 10 am to 6 pm. The pool is open 1 pm to 6 pm on Sunday and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Guests can reserve the pool for private parties.
Panther Creek State Park offers guests the opportunity to play disc golf on a championship level course with dense woods and higher elevation. Some of the holes on this course are 4 and 5 par. This course have 18 holes with a total length of 9,600 ft.
This is a long course with several large hills. Guests new to disc golf may become discouraged because of steep inclines in the course. Guests should be mindful that they will need to bring water when playing in hot weather.
Outdoor enthusiasts will delight in the over 15 miles of mountain biking trails available for their use in Panther Creek State Park. Multiuse trails for mountain biking and hiking are listed below:
Old Wagon Trail: This one-mile trail, the most popular in the Panther Creek State Park, offers a lovely ride along the contours Panther Creek. It is ideal for all skill levels.
Piney Cove Trail: Winding through tall pines, this half-mile trail is a connector trail between Panther Path and the Old Farm trails. This is an excellent option for guests new to mountain biking.
Deer Run Trail: This mellow three-quarter-mile connector trail meanders around curves and over gentle hills. This trail connects Panther Path trail to the Trout Lily Trail.
Old Farm Trails: This easy trail features a one-mile inner loop and a one and a half-mile outer loop, and offers the opportunity to experience the beauty of native wildflowers with the lyrical accompaniment of native songbirds. The inner loop gently winds through cedar glades and bramble fields. Indeed, guests may expect to find blackberries in summer. The larger outer loop takes guests to the Pioneer Trail through open fields dotted with hardwood and pine stands.
Trout Lily Trail: Sections of this moderate two-mile trail hug the lake shoreline. Guests will find this to be the most technically challenging trail in the park due rocky terrain and frequent tree roots.
Panther Path Trail: This easy one-mile loop winds offers stretches of sunshine amid open fields with the occasional shaded break provided by stands of mature hardwood trees.
Pioneer Trail: This two and a half-mile moderate loop winds it’s way through a pine and cedar forest. Guests will enjoy the abundance of wildlife that can be found here.
Some of the trails offered in Panther Creek State Park are multiuse for horseback riding and hiking. The area is stunningly beautiful with two separate horseback riding trails:
Hunt Knob Trail: The four-mile Hunt Knob trail is the longest trail in the park. This scenic trail offers something for all skill levels. The trail is easy along the straight gently sloping sections around the shore of Lake Cherokee. However, the trail increases in intensity as it climbs to strenuous hilly sections as it approaches Hunt Knob. Guests should note that the Hunt Knob trail is accessible only from the horse trailer parking area along a one and a half-mile connector trial. The total length of the Hunt Knob trail and the connector trail is five and a half miles.
Maple Arch Trail: The three-mile Maple Arch trail loop is moderately difficult and features several short steep hills and one very steep ascent. This trail is named for the Red and Silver Maple trees that grow along the trail and bend to form arches over the trail corridor. Much of the trail follows the shoreline of Cherokee Lake before sharply ascending River Ridge. Guests will enjoy the Maple Arch trail for its tranquil environment that offers an excellent opportunity to view waterfowl and other native wildlife. This trail offers captivating views of Cherokee Lake. NOTE: The Maple Arch trail loop is accessible only from the horse trail parking area along a two and a half-mile connector trail. The total length of the Maple Arch trail and the connector trail is six-miles.
Horse trailers must use the parking area off Panther Creek Road, just to the west of Boat Ramp Road.
Cherokee Lake is a 30,000-acre impoundment on the Holston River. Guests will find that the lake provides great fishing, boating, skiing and other water recreation activities. Bass, crappie, Walleye, and Sauger are abundant at Cherokee Lake. Bass and crappie fishing are best in the spring. Rock Bass fishing is exceptionally good. It is not uncommon for guests to catch Rock Bass weighing up to 20-30 lbs. Cherokee Lake is stocked annually with Hybrid Striped Bass which commonly exceed seven pounds