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Panther Gulch Tr. #931
// track pieces: 169, // elevation pieces: 169
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Status: Open
Difficulty: Expert
Uses: Mt Biking & Hiking & Equestrian & Motorcycle & eBikes
Length: 1.5 miles
Start: 7,651'
End: 7,398'
Min: 7,222'
Max: 7,749'
Gain: 501'
Loss: -754'
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Trail Info
Many of the trails and roads in Deer Creek are open. You might still find snow at higher elevations. Please turn back if you encounter extended muddy sections.
Trailhead Forecast
Description / Access Information
Panther Gulch Tr. #931: A very steep and rugged ridge line trail that is used mainly by motorcyclists and hunters. Some die-hard mountain bikers and runners utilize the trail as part of an incredibly demanding 12.5 mile loop with Howard's Tr.

The #931 Trail follows the spine of a ridge. In places the trail is a rock strewn path that is difficult to negotiate, at other times the trail is a pretty nice singletrack, only to lead you to an impossibly steep section that has you questioning your choice of routes. Besides lots of loose rock the trail features a couple of spiny rock bands that will challenge hoof, tire, and foot.

The trail hasn't seen maintenance in ages, perhaps partly because the sections that need the work are so unsustainable. Why try? But, the trail has its virtues. It offers solitude and some great views, including into the distant Pioneer Mountain Range.

How to approach this trail? Well, you can come at it as a descent, by coming at it off of Howard's Trail. Or, you can aim at tackling this trail as a climb. If you do the later, you have your work cut out for you.

Approaching from below, you will access it by coming up the FS Road #100, which comes up the Panther Gulch drainage, branching off of the main Deer Creek Road. This road leads up to the south end of the trail. The bottom couple of miles of the road are gradual and can be negotiated quite easily in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The road's character changes at a point where the road reaches a flatter area with shade and room to park vehicles. This spot is used by sheep, when they are in this drainage, as it includes a trickling water-trough that is the shade of some large evergreens. If unoccupied by a band of sheep this is a good place to park.

Above the shady sheep sanctuary the FS Road #100 pitches up steeply. Some people drive up the steeper portion, in jeeps and atvs and such, but on foot or bicycle its a steep climb. Some sections of the old road were too steep to keep in place, so they were paved. Who knows by whom or when, but they are helping keep the road on the side of the hill, so we have that going for us. There are two sections that are paved, but each smooth asphalt section ends after only a hundred feet or so, then its back to native surface.

Parts of the road are rocky or loose with smaller gravels. Other sections are smooth and buttery, a real mix of road surfaces for sure. At one point on the climb up, the road forks. Stay right on the main road. The road to the left is a boulder strewn two-track that appears to lead to an old mining area. If you just follow the more desirable route you are sure to stay on track toward reaching the low end of the 931 Tr.

The 100 Road tops out near a saddle where many old mining roads and two-tracks come together. Here, look uphill and to the north for the sign for Panther Gulch Trail 931. The sign for the trail is up the hill, at a point where the singletrack can be gained a bit more easily. You can choose to get on the trail at the saddle, but its a brutally steep grade that is mainly used by motorcyclists. For a slightly easier approach use the two-tracks that you will find available. You can use them for a few more precious pedal strokes or strides.

Aim for the sign. Push your bike, or bend into your hike/run, and get up the gravely trail. It goes straight up the bald ridge. After the first crest you will be able to pedal, or run again, for a while.

The trail climbs and drops aggressively as it makes its way up to its high intersection with Howard's Trail. Not a long trail, but oh so demanding.

Some will approach the trail by climbing up the FS #100 Road, others will approach it from its higher end, off of Howard's Trail. Most people, who have any sense, or who lack tractor-legs, choose to approach Panther from above; climbing up Howard's Trail to get to the top of Panther Gulch Trail.

From its low end the trail involves super steep climbing and short steep, technical descents. From its high end the trail involves short, super steep climbing and long super steep, technical descents. Check out the elevation profile, as it does a pretty good job of helping to describe that there is climbing on the trail, in either direction.

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