Side trip to Panther Hollow RNA (Not Panther Den) and Buckhart Hollow to Ohio River

I recently started exploring Panther Hollow. It’s East near the R2R trail nearly to Battery Rock.

It’s that yellow area top left on 03E, top right on 03D. The white areas are Shawnee National Forest, the Grey are Private land.

To get there, take RT 1 down to Minerva Mine road and take it East to the intersection with Finneyville Rd.

Take Finneyville Rd. North through Lamb (just a couple of houses) up the rough part up the hill, then soon after it turns East and gets nicer, you will see FR 172A. Park as far off the Finneyville road as you dare, but don’t park IN the middle of the Forest Road.  If you have ground clearance and want to, there is a camp site just up FR172A to the left with a plastic hand nailed to a post and old carpet to park on, to the left.

I should mention that Horses are not allowed in the RNA, (Research Natural Area) and aside from the vanishing signs of a couple of roads there are NO trails. Nothing here is maintained.

There are some red paint splats here and there on both top and bottom where some idiot tried to make a trail, but there is none. You follow the traces of the old road in. There are a couple of places where trees have fallen and you might have to look around to pick up the roadbed again.

You will get  to a place where the road starts climbing a hill, there is a tree across the road, and a Hikers only sign. Turn left at the sign and follow what will turn into an old road along the base of the hill which will soon become a bluff. I spent some time looking around on top. Save your time and don’t bother. There isn’t anything up there.

When the hill to your right starts turning into a rocky bluff, follow it. Abandon the roadbed. I think they just used it when they logged, or maybe it traveled the couple miles to the Ohio, but it disappeared pretty quickly.

I’m combining the photos from the 2 times I have been there. The second one a couple of days ago, we followed the bluff on the south side of the valley out of Panther Hollow towards the East, but turned back after the cave at the end of the bluff about where the red line is on the map. We returned along the unexceptional low North side of the creek and crossed back to the South side and back out about where the Kissing rocks are.

Back to entering though and following the bluff.

It starts turning impressive pretty quickly

The Kissing rocks,

The monkey skull rock is where you can make it to the top on the map if you wanted to.. Continue past it to continue on.

At the monkey skull rock there is a gap where you can climb to the top or creek, though the creek is too rough to walk there easily. I recommend you continue past there until you see flat rock bottom on the creek to walk if it is dry. You can make it to the waterfall area along the East wall you have been travelling.

You will get to this shelter bluff. There is no safe way to continue past it, you must go down below it and navigate back up just past it.

That little notch up there is where the shelter bluff takes you! It’s a dead end.

You will soon get to the waterfall/cave. I’ve been twice and dry weather both times with just a trickle. It is probably GREAT after a rain.

Continuing along the East side of Panther Hollow, you have to walk the creek to get by a rock pile, then you can hike next to the bluff the rest of the way.

Up on the ledge along there, we found a fire ring and small cave that has to be a great camping spot.

Continuing on, there is a great long ledge all the way to where the bluff curves East out of Panther Hollow towards the Ohio river.

Unfortunately, it just ends high off the ground and you have to backtrack and walk on the ground.

The bluffs end with a nice cave. We walked further East without seeing signs of any more bluffs, and then we crossed to the other side and headed back West.

The bluff here is low and not impressive. We hiked along it for awhile, then crossed when the other side seemed to be getting further away. We hit the Panther Hollow bluffs about where the kissing rocks are. I’d like to come back after leaf off and cross that ridge and see what the canyon in the right top corner of the map looks like.

We took some photos of faces Don noticed on the way back.



Laughing guy

Angry Iguana

We saw a lot of really old stumps where someone had logged long ago, probably the reason for the road. I couldn’t figure this one out, why anyone would cut it that way. Maybe they had a short bar on their chainsaw. Made a nice seat though.

I went along the old roadbed on the way back away from the bluffs, while Don went back along the bluffs. I found this really neat “Octopus” Tree just outward and down hill from the tall pointy rock near the beginning. It was a fully grown mature tree that had grown on top of a huge rock and had huge roots sprawled over the rock. Talking a foot in diameter and super long.

Don didn’t come down there so I had nothing to show a sense of scale.

Next time I go I’ll remove the fallen tree limbs and get a better photo.

We also saw some pretty neat mushrooms there.

I named different things so you would know where they are on my map. They may have names already but if I call them something other than Boulder #1 its less confusing.

I want to repeat this is a natural area, and is open to hikers only. And a great overlooked and rarely traveled area with NO trails or markers. There is nothing to follow, and no maintenance.

I’d recommend traveling with a buddy. Lots to see out there.

We returned twice now finding a LOT more Bluffs, caves and whatnot. Cane Creek is flooded from the Ohio river right now, so you have to decide which side to continue on across from the round bluff. I’d highly recommend the high bluffs on the east side of cane creek.

You will probably see this roller while heading north from the bluff across the valley of Buckhart Hollow to the next bluff on the other side. There are traces of an old road along here.

The East side of Cane Creek gets very close to the steep bluffs. We were wondering if there was room to get around a couple of places. There is.

There is an old homestead site at the Ohio. The road to it must have been over the top of the ridge of bluffs. Lots of stuff still there.

Starting back, make sure to climb the bluff to near the top where it curves back South. You are in for a treat.

There are too many rock formations along here to post. Go see them for yourself.

This high shelter bluff is where we ate lunch with a great view.  There was some old broken glass and pottery washed down from gap that tells us there was a homestead up on top. We didn’t have time to climb up and look around. This is just around the curve southbound at the curve of the bluff.

We were thinking the bluffs were petering out going into the box canyon there. We were wrong.


This magnificent bluff appeared around the bend. We intend to go back and check it and the top out some day. We had to save some stuff for you guys.

Don Wall said this was his favorite spot.  A small colorful shelter cave with multiple bunks.

There were other bluffs around the edge of the Box Canyon but nothing that appealed to us and we descended back to the creek along a sharp steep sided ridge rather than continue.

Hornets nest I had missed before back at Panther Hollow.

We returned a couple of days ago and went around the North edge of the ridge at the top to the Ohio river on the North side of Cane Creek.

I was mostly wanting to see the bluff and especially the point there North of the round bluff which the topo map looked to be around 100ft high which puts it around what Inspiration point is on the Mississippi bluffs.

We started by trying to spot the boundary markers where the Shawnee hits Tuckerhill road. We didn’t see any makers, but we found Saline Landing. Looks like it landed pretty hard. We backtracked and went back to our old starting point. This time crossing the Cane Creek and its branches until we were above the round bluff in National forest land. It was hard to see the bluffs well. We could tell we were getting to something.

There is a huge heavy made spool of cable at the base of the bluff here where the bluff is steep and meets a canyon from the North.

It looks like maybe it could be climbed on the east side, but we continued toward the Ohio.

Last bluff before the Ohio

A nice bluff just North of where we were. On the way back Don retraced, I went along the top hoping to get on top of the point, and also hoping to find a way down.

Shortly afterwards I realized that I was committed and there was no alternative besides going all the way back to the river to get down. Dons down there just right of center. He’s worried about daylight, and I’m committed to the point, and no knowing how far Northwest I’ll have to go to get down. I wasn’t coming that far to not see the top. I’m a risky hiking partner.

The tip of the point has broken loose and like inspiration point needs a small jump to get there.  I wimped out. I couldn’t see anything but trees from there anyway.

I called to Don and he called back but we couldn’t hear what the other was saying clearly and the phones don’t work there. I continued on and found a way down shown on the map after about 15 minutes.

The bluff wall on the way back to Don was pretty cool and had been dug out at one place with colorful rock for some reason.

The rest was just backtracking along the creek. I took one last photo of the angry Iguana and that was all for now.

The grey area right of the access road is fenced pasture. It is posted so is pretty easy to identify. The private land I outlined in orange is private, but there are no signs of boundaries other than an occaisional forest marker. Just stay to the right of Cane creek until you have gone north until the survey bearing tree, then go north until you are across from the round bluff you can cross West. The tree is actually 3 trees with yellow signs. You won’t miss them.  Ok, one tree is eating a sign, but the other two are behaving.

This area is full of stuff, and no trails, no horses. It’s actually too big for 1 day, but would be GREAT as an overnight backpack hike.