Panther Flat is the perfect spot to pull off during a road trip to refresh the mind. Even if you do not choose to camp at the Panther Flat Campground, there is ample parking in a separated area for swimming and picnicking. The grounds lay on the Smith River National Recreation Area.
While the water is extremely frigid (even in late summer), it is impossible to pass up a swim based on the sheer beauty of this location. After parking, a little path toward the parking lot entrance provide leads to an impressive swiming hole. Set up chairs and towels for friends and family (dogs allowed too) on the riverside, or claim one of the small little nooks that are set into the brush.
After swimming across the river, the adventurous can climb up a cliff face to various jumping points. Some are barely 2 feet off of the water, while the safest spots are roughly 12 feet from the surface. Be careful of your footing, especially when wet, while climbing up the rock face.
While the pools may be the main spot to swim, following the trees up and down the river will bring you to other smaller spots to relax. They do not provide deep or wide swim areas like the immediate pools, but they are still enjoyable and will have less foot traffic.
Swimming holes and cliff jumping can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable outdoor activities that pose significant risks regarding personal safety. Changing water levels, unseen rocks, and river bottoms that have shifted with currents and seasonal weather can turn a well-known jumping area into a serious hazard. Prior to engaging in these activities, extensively scout the current conditions, and understand the risks involved with serious injury and the logistical challenges of evacuation from the water so you can make safe decisions.