Panther Creek State Park is part of Tennessee’s 54 award-winning state park system. For residents of and visitors to Hamblen County, Panther Creek is the place to go when you want to have a family cookout without the muss and fuss of doing it at home. Or when you want to enjoy a wilderness adventure while also avoiding bumper-to-bumper tourist traffic at the nearby national parks.
The park’s unique name is based on a local legend from the claim of a Colonel Bradley of Virginia who, while exploring the area, shot a panther than fell into the spring.
While the park teems with a variety of wildlife, no panthers prowl the park today.
Panther Creek State Park is 1,435 acres nestled west of Morristown and Cherokee Lake. It’s 32-mile trail system offers something for just about everyone. Walkers can chose from the easy 1.1-mile nature trail to the more advanced Ridge Crest Trail, a very steep .7-mile trail that leads from the top of the mountain 200 feet down to the bank of Cherokee Lake and back up.
You can hike as little as .6 of a mile on the Sinkholes Trail to as much as seven miles on the Hunt Knob Trail, the park’s longest single trail.
Or you can combine trails for a full- or half-day adventure.
While seven of the park’s 16 named trails are designed for mountain bikers and two are designated as horse trails, hikers can enjoy any trail in the park.
The park’s large fan-shaped swimming pool opens Memorial Day weekend through early August. It offers folks a place to cool off from the summer’s scorching temperatures. The pool has a high dive, a low dive and a wading pool for small children. In addition to grassy areas for sunbathers, the pool area also includes a shelter for those wanting to get out of the sun.
The park has access to Cherokee Lake for fishing with year-round catches of bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bream. It is not uncommon to catch 20- and 30-pound rock fish. There is no park fee for fishing, but a valid Tennessee fishing license is required.
Nearby commercial marinas provide boat launching and rental boats and motors, as well as a bait shop supplying fishing and picnicking needs.
For folks who don’t want the fun to end when the sun goes down, the park has a 50-site campground. The campsites come equipped with electricity and water and are open to both RV and tent campers. Each has electrical hookups, water, grills, picnic tables, fire rings and a nearby bathhouse facility. A Laundromat facility and dump station are nearby.
Another advantage is that campground guests pay half price for admission to the pool.
Sports types can take advantage of the park’s basketball, horseshoe, softball, volleyball and tennis courts and soccer field. Panther Creek has numerous picnic shelters and other picnic tables offering a shady respite. Most are only a short stroll to the pool or the trails.
Panther Creek is unique in that, although you feel like you’re miles from civilization, you’re really only a few minutes from the nearest grocery store and mall.
For more information, call 423-587-7046.