Panther Creek State Park

A bit of internet browsing led us to a new state park today.  Although, I have to say most of Tennessee’s state parks are well west of Newport.  Maybe they figure that everyone in the far eastern end of the state can go to the national park. Panther Creek State Park is on the shore of Cherokee Lake. It is a relatively small park offering a playground, a campground, several large picnic pavilions, a swimming pool, a boat ramp, numerous picnic spots, a gorgeous overlook of the lake, and many hiking trails.

We drove through the campground to check it out.  It is lovely and cheap, with full hook-ups for RVs.  Our next stop was at the end of the road, high atop a narrow peninsula poking into the lake. As soon as we got out of the car, Andy pointed out the red leaves on a nearby tree.  That is our first fall-color sighting.

Red Leaves, a Hint of Fall

The observation deck appeared to be hanging out in space and I wanted to tell the young man to get off that railing before he fell to his death.

Overlook at Panther Creek State Park

After we got closer and looked over the edge, I could see that he would not kill himself, maybe just break a leg or a neck.

Young Man Reading a Book on the Overlook

There was a panoramic view of the lake and we were high above it.    We admired the view for a while and then walked on to the cul-de-sac at the end of the road.  The Ridgecrest trailhead was past the circle, so we followed the trail for a bit. The promontory was getting more and more narrow as we walked along.  There was a steep drop-off on both sides of the trail.  It wasn’t a mountain but, it was a really big hill.

Ridgecrest Trail

When the trail began getting steep, we turned around.  Back on the road, it was clear that the short white wall around the center of the cul-de-sac was a large heart.  I was enamored.  Andy was indifferent. I could not capture the whole thing in one picture.  This is the top of the heart, clear as we were walking off the trail.


From the side, it is clear that the bottom of the heart has a point.


We drove out of the park and down the road a piece to the boat ramp.  The woman in the visitor center suggested that it was an easy place to walk on the waterfront.  Easy and ugly.

The Longest Boat Ramp I’ve Ever Seen

This is the time of year when the dams release water from the lakes for use downstream so there was plenty of beach.  Instead of sand, it is dry mud. I admit that is was fairly easy to walk on.

Dry Lake Bottom

When we returned to the boat ramp, I noticed a dry inlet on the other side.  It had piles of old tires placed at regular intervals along the now-dry cove. We guessed that they were placed there as artificial reefs (for lack of a better word) that would provide a safe haven for young fish.

Old Tires on Lake Bed

Next, we drove back to the campground for the second hike the woman in the visitor center recommended.  We parked next to the dumpsters. This little bridge took us across a small creek.


Then we were following a footpath along the creek.  A cross-country team was running in our direction.


We saw a bridge and a sign for a 1.1-mile nature loop.  The cross-country coach said all the runners were out of there.  I responded with, “So, we’re not going to see any wildlife?” Actually, we did see some.  Andy spotted deer three times.  I only saw deer-butts bouncing through the forest. The trail was very easy and wide.

Nature Trail

There were numerous little posts with numbers on them but, we didn’t have a brochure to tell us what we were supposed to be looking at.  At one point, we were walking along a ravine.  There was a post with a number on it so I walked to the edge of the ravine for a look.  It was the remains of an old car. Then I really wanted a brochure to find out the story behind that.

Old Car in Ravine

This is the view as we emerged from the nature trail.


We crossed the small bridge back to our car parked next to the dumpster.

Small Foot Bridge Over Creek

It was yet another nice outing.  I was disappointed when we got home and I checked my pedometer. It said 1.3 miles.  Hey!  That nature loop was 1.1 miles and I know we walked more than 0.2 miles on the hilltop and along the lake shore.  I’ve been robbed!