Panther Falls is a small beautiful waterfall outside Buena Vista, Virginia that is popular with locals, and serves as a favorite swimming hole. We want to share how to get there, when to go, and what to expect for people not familiar with this awesome, somewhat secret spot.
Panther Falls is a 10 foot tall waterfall that flows along the Pedlar River just a few miles outside of Buena Vista, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The fact that Panther Falls is a shorter waterfall hides the true beauty of the experience in visiting.
Many people visit to swim in the deep pool at the base of the falls, but you can also enjoy just sitting near the falls.
Reaching the falls requires driving along a rocky steep dirt road and a short hike with a round trip of a bit less than half a mile. Once you reach the falls expect to have company, whether that be loungers, swimmers, or people fishing.
Panther Falls Hike
Length: 0.4 miles Elevation: 50 feet Difficulty: Easy
Great For: Swimming, families, relaxing
Location: Buena Vista, Virginia
When to Visit: Spring, Summer, early Fall
How We Rate it: 4/5, the overall experience is much more than the sum of it’s parts.
Getting to Panther Falls
Parking for Panther Falls is a couple miles down Panther Falls Rd. The dirt road is not well maintained and littered with pot holes and jutting rocks. You do not need to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle in dry conditions; we made it just fine in our minivan.
We have only visited when the road is dry, so it’s worth considering how your vehicle handles mud if it’s been raining. Just keep your speed low on the way down the steep grade regardless of weather.
The parking lot is two and half miles down the road on the left side of the road. There is only space for about 10 vehicles but you can park along the side of the road in a few places as well.
If you are taking any kind of trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Panther Falls is a stop to consider. The detour off the parkway is only about 10 minutes.
What to expect
You’ll have to make a very short hike to the waterfall after parking. It’s not difficult and it’s very easy to follow. Normally I wouldn’t consider bringing a bunch of stuff on a hike, like chairs or blankets or coolers, but you certainly could on this super short hike. The ample flat rocks around the falls leave space to spread out a bit.
Don’t be surprised to see people jumping off the huge boulders framing the short waterfall. The drop from the boulders is between 15 and 20 feet.
This is a popular swimming hole for locals, but you don’t need to swim or leap into the water to enjoy your visit. There are plenty of spaces to sit on the boulders or explore along the shore.
Our kids love to get into the water and splash around. We found the best spot for that about 30 yards away from the waterfall downstream. The trail that leads to the river shore continues further. Those looking to fish near Panther Falls will want to explore around a bit for a good spot.
When to visit
Panther Falls isn’t widely known by people not familiar to the area but locals are very familiar with it. As soon as the weather warms enough to get in the water, weekends will be packed at the waterfall. If you are looking for quiet, your best bet will be to visit on weekdays or to arrive early.
This is more to make sure you get a parking spot than that you enjoy your visit.
Other things you may love near Panther Falls
If you love waterfalls, especially easy to access waterfalls, you should check out Statons Creek Falls. It’s only about half an hour away and requires no hiking.