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Headwaters Half Marathon



12.7 mile 20.5 kilometer loop
87% Runnable


Ascent: 2,198' 670 m
Descent: -2,200' -670 m
High: 4,504' 1,373 m
Low: 3,649' 1,112 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 28% (16°)


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Trail shared by Matt Kirby

This is the Headwaters Half Marathon course—13 miles of amazing views.

Matt Kirby

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


Two years ago, in my mind, I created this event. I wanted to share with others how beautiful Panthertown Valley truly is. So, we created a half marathon so that runners can experience some of what Panthertown has to offer.

While running the 13 miles, you'll summit two mountains. You'll witness amazing views and run some of the best singletrack in western North Carolina.

We will have one fully stocked aid station at the Cold Springs parking area. We recommend that you bring something to carry water in. We will have a fully stocked aid station at the finish for you to replenish food and fluids.

We have commissioned a local artist to make the top 3 female and male finisher awards. Every runner will receive a t-shirt and a commemorative finishers pint glass.

Parking can get a bit tight at Salt Rock parking area so we are encouraging carpooling. We have a special prize for runners who carpool so get your friends to register and load up the car.

Need to Know

Be aware of black bears and rattlesnakes.

Runner Notes

Stay alert to bears and rattlesnakes. Most of the time the bears run away, but there have been encounters where the bear does not yield the trail.


Park at the Salt Rock parking area in Panthertown Valley. You'll start at the gate and head toward the Blackrock Trail #447. At about 1 mile, you'll take the Overlook Trail (right) to Black Rock. From there, you'll continue on the Blackrock Overlook Trail #491 to Powerline Road Trail #451 going right toward Panthertown Valley Trail #474.

Once you are at this junction, you'll head to the Green Valley Trail (left past the sand beach). Head up this trail toward Little Green Trail #485. Take the Little Green Overlook toward School House Falls. Continue on School House Falls back to Panthertown Valley Trail #474 going right toward Cold Mountain parking area.

Once in the parking lot, take Mac's Gap Trail #482 toward Big Green. Continue on Big Green to the overlook. This is the only out-and-back on the course. Take the Great Wall Trail toward Deep Gap Trail. Go right on Deep Gap to Panthertown Valley Trail #474. Once on Panthertown Valley Trail #474, take a left to make the climb out toward the finish. Pass the gate and bam! you are finished. Congrats!

Flora & Fauna

This place is as unique as crazy.

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Dec 1, 2018
Jon Bealer

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Schoolhouse Falls along the Panthertown Valley trail
Aug 13, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC
The School House Falls are one of the highlights of the Panthertown Valley Loop.
Dec 21, 2015 near Cullowhee, NC
Rhododendron tunnel.
Dec 26, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC
View of the Great Wall in the winter.
Dec 26, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC
Panthertown Valley provides pleasant views toward Green Mountain.
May 29, 2017 near Cullowhee, NC
View from a top Little Green Mountain Trail.
Dec 26, 2019 near Cullowhee, NC


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