Hickory Creek is very rocky. The stretch along the Conasauga River you can rip through.
Leave Hickory Creek trailhead, going gently downhill 1.5ish miles to the Conasauga River. Turn right and follow the old railroad board along the Conasauga River to a bray field. Camping is available off trail to the left of here or on either side of the river to the right.
Turn right at the bray field and follow about 1 mile to the junction with Panther Creek Trail #116
on left-hand side. Ford the Conasauga junction and follow Panther Creek uphill. The trail crisscrosses the creek a few times before veering up and away on a slight hill. You'll then drop into and cross Panther Creek at a cool mini falls area.
This is where it gets fun ... climb up and sweep back to the right (enjoy the last few level feet). From here on, the trail becomes slightly harder to follow but can generally be found easily within 20 feet. You'll leave the last crossing and meander for 100 yards or so, then hit the beginning of a boulder field. It's not too bad at first, then as you ascend, it gets steeper, rocks become much larger, and the trail snakes through, over, and between them, skirting up generally the right-hand side of the hill.
If confused, just look for the worn path; it generally can be found again without worry. If not, just sort of hug the treeline and you'll hit it at the waterfall viewing shoot-off. From there, the trail turns left and parallels Panther Bluff until a switchback that brings you right up under bluff. Follow this a little further; climb the last little step up and voila! Follow the creek upstream for several small sites and two big ones. One's on the left about 100 yards upstream, and the other is around 200 yards upstream and down to the right.
Bears love the area above the falls. A little further up east, there's a cowpen to the right. I've seen them early morning the past two times staying there.
Panther Bluff was one of many set housing camp areas for the Conasauga River Timber Company. In the past, there were 80-100 loggers and family members housed here.