hike: Pacific Crest Trail – Panther Creek

I’ve been enjoying hiking on less traveled trails recently. This section of the PCT near the Panther Creek campground had plenty of solitude, several unexpected wildflowers, and two great viewpoints.

distance: 7 miles (roundtrip)
elevation gain: 1,350 ft.
difficulty: moderate
drive time from Portland: 1 hour 20 min.
parking pass: none
hike description: AllTrails – Pacific Crest Trail from Panther Creek

The Hike

There’s no designated trailhead here, so we parked next to the road just outside of the campground, then walked back a short distance to begin the hike.

Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike

The trail crosses Panther Creek on a large footbridge, then begins heading up the ridge via switchbacks.

Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike

I was surprised to see so many Phantom Orchids next to the trail. This rare native plant is white, has no leaves, and exists by relying on a specific type of fungus.

Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike

Partway up is an opening with a view to the south. Mount Hood is normally visible, but the clouds hid it yesterday.

Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike

Continuing up the ridge, the terrain changes and looks a bit more like parts of the eastern Gorge, with rocky spines, scrub oaks and balsamroot.

Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike

We stopped at high point with great views to the north and west for a long lunch before turning around and heading back, only seeing about six people all day.

Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike Pacific Crest Trail - Panther Creek hike