Panther Creek Park offers hiking, biking and horseback riding

Panther Creek State Park, located in northwest Hamblen County, was established in 1965. It consists of 1,435 acres of rolling woodland, some open fields, and the shoreline of Cherokee Lake.

The park has 50 camp sites with water and electrical hookups, with two bath houses, grills, picnic tables and fire rings.

Being on the lake, boating, fishing and swimming are all popular park activities. A boat launch ramp is part of the park.

Along with picnic tables, the park includes two large pavilions. Smallman Shelter, atop a ridge with an outstanding view over Cherokee Lake, has seating for about 90 people. Spoone Shelter holds 140 people. Both have restrooms. They can be reserved up to one year in advance for family reunions, weddings, church gatherings or other activities.

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are all popular pursuits in the park. Ten miles of hiking trails vary in degrees of diffi culty to appeal to a wide range of hikers.

Hamblen County’s only public swimming pool is in the park. It’s open from Memorial Day into August when school begins. There is a play area near the pool. There are also two tennis courts.

The park is constantly being upgraded. One of the most popular additions was a 687 square-foot observation deck near Smallman Shelter. The deck provides a view across a large section of Cherokee Lake, including several islands.

The park abounds in wildlife, from small creatures such as squirrels to whitetail deer and wild turkeys. It is considered a great place for wildlife photography and bird watching.

While there are fees for camping and some activities, there is no admission charge to enter the park.

Friends of Panther Creek is an organization that provides much volunteer labor and works to improve the park experience for visitors.

For more information, call the park office in the visitor’s center at 423-587-7046.

Posted on Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm