Panther Creek (Mount Rainier National Park)
Log in to rateLog in to rateLog in to rateLog in to rateLog in to rate 3.4 (20 ratings)
Raps:2-4, max ↨55ft
Red Tape:No permit required
15 Sep 2023
"I didn't take extensive notes, but I downclimbed or jumped everything but the last drop. We encountered no webbing and no bolts, so come prepared if y
Panther Creek is a short but very scenic canyon in Mount Rainier National Park. It is a high-flow creek with a large drainage and may be dangerous to run early in the season; the creek can flow high even into late summer. The canyon features some interesting geology and one of the biggest logjams you're likely to find in a canyon route in Washington. It is a very photogenic canyon that gets bonus points for an easy approach and exit. Make it a full day of canyons by combining Panther with Middle Summit Creek, only 20 minutes away.
Park on the north side of the bridge. On the north side of the bridge, head up into the fairly open forest. Simply parallel the creek, staying just far enough away from the creek to avoid steep parts that appear and disappear. You may catch a few glimpses of the waterfalls in the canyon as you approach. Continue until you reach a wide gully at around 46.7896, -121.5493. Traverse down into the gully easily to the creek.
As with any canyon, be sure to check any pools for depth before jumping. Some pools in this canyon can be surprisingly shallow.
While not very deep, there are sections of this creek that are committing, particularly the last 2 rappels. There are several potential emergency exit points within the canyon but could be quite exposed and have not been attempted.
Just downstream from the drop-in you'll encounter an enormous logjam. Navigate your way over the logs very carefully, as they can be deceivingly loose. DCL appears to be the easiest path. Just around the corner from the logjam you'll reach the first series of pools.
R1: 7' jump into a shallow pool, or downclimb DCR.
R2: 20' from a tree cluster up high DCR. This is a two-tier pool sequence. You will need to downclimb slightly DCR, then directly up to reach this anchor.
R3: 35' from a log DCL. Or downclimb DCR to a jump platform for a 15’ jump into a deep pool.
R4: 7' jump, downclimb, or slide.
(Note from a descender in Sept 2023. I did not keep track of the drops in the canyon, but one of these last 2 pools has MANY shallow boulders. Downclimbing options are moderately advanced. Recommended to set an anchor. )
R5: 40' from a tree DCR. May be jumped DCL into deep pool avoiding two massive old growth logs.
R6: 55’ rappel from a log behind the falls. Or jump DCR. Can be rappelled down 10’ to a ledge for a 30’ jump into a wide pool. Aim down stream as pushing directly out across risks hitting the opposite wall. The water falls through a beautiful little slot section here with into a very deep pool. It is recommended to use human anchor technique for those that do not want to jump. The last person then jumps, leaving no anchor behind. Natural anchor options are limited here. As of 2019 this pool was at least 15ft deep. To jump, traverse the ledge about 25' DCR to a small dip in the ledge.
- In Sept 2020, we were able to anchor on a large log that had fallen across the chasm. To reach the anchor: climb up onto the large shelf DCR. This is tricky requiring you to climb up next to the outlet of the big pool. Getting up on the ledge may require partner assistance. Approach the anchor with caution; it's a dirty grovel... but you get to clean off in the pool at the bottom of the rappel.
- This drop should probably be bolted for safety.
Follow the creek back to the bridge and hike up to the road where your cars are waiting.
Although the creek is inside the national park boundary, using SR 123 does not require a national parks pass or entry fee.
Trip reports and media
Descended by Jake Huddleston and Kevin Steffa in October 2019. Webbing was found at the last drop indicating the canyon had been previously descended by another group. No signs of fixed anchors anywhere else in canyon. Date of first descent unknown.