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    Default Lake trail in the Smokies

    I am thinking on doing a loop and hike most of the lake trail near Fontana Lake has anyone every hiked down there, I think it would be nice to be close to the water for a few days before heading to the AT trail and back to clingmans dome, any input ? Thanks I love this site..

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    You're talking about lakeshore trail?

    yeah---done it a few times....

    word of warning---it's called lakeshore trail but you only come down to touch the lake a few times....

    most times one is up on the bank looking down through the trees at the lake...

    if you are into the historical aspect of the park---there's a ton of old homesites and cemeteries off the trail....

    also---looking at the map---one could think that campsite 72 from the trail---but that ain't so....

    its an island campsite....

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    What exactly are you planning in the way of a loop?... that includes Clingman's Dome?

    The smallest loop I can see that includes both is to start at Clingman's Dome, hike the AT to Silers Bald and then down Welch Ridge/Hazel Creek, then Lakeshore to Forney Creek, then Forney Creek to Clingman's Dome parking lot. But that's around 50 miles. If you do a loop like this, you might not ever touch the lake waters... but you sure will get up-close and personal with the waters of Forney Creek (some of the most challenging water crossing in the park).

    If you want something shorter, you can start at the end of "The Road to Nowhere" and make a loop out of Bear Creek, Hazel Creek, and Lakeshort trail. That's closer to 40 miles round trip and can be done in 3 or 4 night easy.

    You could also make a look out of Lake Shore, Forney Creek, AT, Eagle Creek. Eagle Creek is best known for its 15 knee+ deep water crossings... however if you try this loop, be aware that Fontana Dam is currently closed to vehical traffic (that adds a few extra miles to this loop).

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    the trip I had planned went down the AT trail and then reload at the Fontana marina then up the lake shore trail to Silver bald but I am thinking that's a lil to much... I have been on Forney creek awesome wanna go back for couple of day just to relax.... that for info sounds great

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    Quote Originally Posted by tim.hiker View Post
    the trip I had planned went down the AT trail and then reload at the Fontana marina then up the lake shore trail to Silver bald but I am thinking that's a lil to much... I have been on Forney creek awesome wanna go back for couple of day just to relax.... that for info sounds great
    I assume you're starting at Clingman's Dome parking lot, you plan to hike the AT all the way to Fontana, then hike Lake Shore back to Forney Creek, then climb Jonas Creek trail to get to Silers Bald (not Silver Bald) and then back to Clingman's Dome?

    If you've already hike over Silers Bald, I would suggest climbing Forney Creek rather than Jonas Creek. Similar to Forney Creek, Jonas Creek has about 4 deep creek crossings. But they are all at the start of the trail. Once you've crossed the creeks, you're left with several miles of what seems like a pretty steep climb with scenery that isn't as nice as Forney Creek.

    If I were doing a similar loop and had already experienced Forney Creek, I would instead climb back to the AT from Lake Shore Trail via Bear Creek and Welch Ridge. I've not hiked these trails yet, but I do know that a spot known as High Rocks is located about 1/2 mile from the intersection of Bear Creek and Welch Ridge. Its the sight of an old fire tower. The tower is long gone, but I hear the view from there is still awesome. The old fire-tower shack is still there (the only one remaining in the park I believe), but from what I've heard of it, it's near collapse.

    Another alternative to complete the loop is to hike Noland Creek and Noland Divide:
    1. Hike to the end of Lake Shore trail where you'll get to hike thru the 1,500'+ long tunnel situated at the terminus of "The Road to Nowhere".
    2. Follow "The Road to Nowhere" for about 3/4 of a mile to access Noland Creek.
    3. Hike up Noland Creek (where all the MAJOR stream crossings are bridged) to reach Noland Ridge.
    4. Hike Noland Ridge to reach Clingman's Dome Road.
    5. Turn right (away from Clingman's Dome) and hike about 3/4 of a mile along the road to where a saddle in the mountains provides easy access to the AT on the left.
    6. U-Turn onto the AT and hike 2 miles back to the Clingman's Dome observation tower.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by tim.hiker View Post
    I am thinking on doing a loop and hike most of the lake trail near Fontana Lake has anyone every hiked down there, I think it would be nice to be close to the water for a few days before heading to the AT trail and back to clingmans dome, any input ?
    I've hiked Lakeshore Trail - as previously noted, in spite of the name, you won't actually be close to the water very much at all. That said, I did enjoy the hike.

    One other note: I didn't enjoy the hike up the A.T. from Fontana Lake at all - not in either direction. I did a loop of the AT, Lost Cove, then Lakeshore back to the dam, and another time I did Twentymile to the AT back to the dam. After the second hike, we decided we'd rather avoid that particular section of trail. YMMV, obviously.

    -FA

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    I was looking on the map and I see that your not close to the lake very often, I was think camping close to the lake would be nice, I loved Forney creek trail tho, I also heard hazel creek was very nice also.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tim.hiker View Post
    I was looking on the map and I see that your not close to the lake very often, I was think camping close to the lake would be nice, I loved Forney creek trail tho, I also heard hazel creek was very nice also.
    While I haven't hiked the section of Lakeshore Trail in question, my resources pretty much show that none of the camp sites are at lake level.

    BC72 is on the lake, but it's listed as a boat-in camp site. It looks to be a 1/4 mile bushwhack to reach from Lakeshore Trail, and looks to be an island campsite when the lake is at full pool level.

    BC98 is almost on the lake, but the campsite seems to be technically on the up-hill side of the trail. It looks like you could go down hill and camp on the shore line below the full pool water line level if lake levels are low enough. But I'm not sure of the legality of such a practice. I can see that BC90 near Lost Cove trail is similarly situated. If you look close in Google Earth, you can see an established fire ring along the creek banks... an area that is submerged when lake levels are higher. But then BC90 is situated such that creek bank is a natural extension of the existing camp ground when water levels are down.

    I'm not at all sure about BC86. The UTK GPS data shows the camp site to be 1/2 mile up the creek from where the creek runs into the lake. But the data provided by Google Earth (which I've frequently found to be inaccurate) shows the camp site just above the shore where it looks like you could camp at the lake when water levels are down.

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    ive stayed at every open campsite in the park so let me weigh in a touch...

    campsite 72 is a boat in site...........it would be too much of a bushwhack to get to it from trail.............not worth it.......

    campsite 90---the campsite sits in the woods but its a short walk to the lake (there's also a creek running through campsite for water)........depending upon lake levels depends upon how far of a walk......but its not that far....

    new campsite 88-----has a small stream for water...........not lake accessible at all............i found this to be a great site in the woods though....

    campsite 86-----sits more on hazel creek than the lake but one can walk down to lake within a few minutes.............walking down the trail is the place where the shuttle will drop ya off if the lake has filled.........if not---shuttle goes to ollie cove (about a mile from the campsite).

    campsite 81-----campsite in the woods but easy walk down to lake..........believe it has a creek for water though.......

    campsite 77-----in the woods-------not an easy walk to lake....wasnt worth my time to get to lake...........has water source though.....

    campsite 76----there's an upper and lower campsite............the upper one is the official one and it sits above lake......and has creek for water..........the lower one was mainly used by boaters.........one could access lake by going about a quarter mile to east and find old road bed.............old road bed is what they use to get the people in for the cemetery visitws..........

    campsite 98------in woods......has chimney.........and a creek for water............its been a while since ive been at this one but i think one can kinda walk down to lake (but not camp there)....

    campsite 74..........has creek for water source..............very heavily used site by backpacker, horse people and boaters....................easy walk down to lake........



    here's one word of warming though........while these campsites are near the lake------most are back in coves on the lake which means that they tend to collect trash in the coves..........other than maybe 90 and maybe 86-----for me it would be too trashy to swim in lake...........


    hope all this helps.....

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    Covered already, but even in winter you get very few views of Fontana directly on the Lakeshore TR. Some decent side trails and bushwacks(obvious on maps) down to the lake from this trail though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    ive stayed at every open campsite in the park so let me weigh in a touch...

    new campsite 88-----has a small stream for water...........not lake accessible at all............i found this to be a great site in the woods though....

    campsite 86-----sits more on hazel creek than the lake but one can walk down to lake within a few minutes.............walking down the trail is the place where the shuttle will drop ya off if the lake has filled.........if not---shuttle goes to ollie cove (about a mile from the campsite).

    ...
    TN - great info as I'm planning a boat-shuttled Lakeshore trip myself and trying to decide route/campsites. some questions for ya...

    I have an old map (1994) that shows "old" cs 88 on a trail connecting Eagle Creek tr and Jenkins Ridge tr. It left Eagle Creek just above 90 and connected with Jenkins Ridge where JR abruptly turns East. That trail doesn't show up on the latest trail map. I assume that trail was abandoned by the park service? any idea if it's still passable?

    Ollie Cove - is that near cs 81?

    I'm hoping to drop a car at the marina and have them shuttle me to Lakeshore, then walk back to the Marina. Trying to figure out where my shuttle drop-off options would be.

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    Campsite 88----for this campsite I always say there's a "new" one and an "old" one...

    the new one is on lakeshore trail between eagle creek and hazel creek......between campsites 90 and 86...

    what the park did about ten years or more ago was close the pinnacle creek trail down (and at one time it was also called lakeshore trail) and make a reroute..

    the reroute was done to avoid the creek crossings on pinnacle creek trail and most importantly the last crossing right at eagle creek (I've crossed there and it was waist high)....used to be a bridge here but it got washed out a bunch...

    on pinnacle creek trail (now closed) sat old campsite 88.....about a mile or so up from eagle creek trail...

    as for pinnacle creek trail----I've done it two times coming down from the intersection with Jenkins ridge trail (there's a gap there that I can't think of name)...

    i did it about 8 or 9 years ago...

    the upper part of trail was fairly easy as it followed an old road bed and made its way down to creek.....

    its not maintained so there were blowdowns and things like that but still passable....

    about 2 years ago---I took my canoe and paddle over to campsite 90 and hiked up to old 88 to stay the night...

    after the water crossing (there's the old bridge support on eagle creek and this is where to cross)---trail was somewhat easy to find but full of blowdowns......someone had flagged the route in some places but I found it easy to follow...

    and old campsite 88 still had bear cables and a fire ring and I stayed the night...

    as for ollie cove---its about a mile or so east from Campsite 86 just off lakeshore trail...

    on the dollar map---if you enlarge it a bunch--you can see a small black line that goes from lakeshore trail down to the cove...

    this is the alternative pick up point for the boat shuttle if water is low...

    i found this out the hard way as the boat people didn't tell me about it and I was assuming pickup was at bottom of hazel creek just below 86..

    make sure you talk to boat people about pickup spot before you hit the trail......

    hope this helps....

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    Oh---and as far as drop off points for the boat---they mainly do eagle creek and hazel creek....

    as that's where most people want to go...

    however ---if ya talk to them beforehand and pay more---they will drop ya off anywhere ya want...

    one year I had them drop me off right near campsite 76 and pick me up at 86 (well, actually Ollie cove)...

    reason being is that I had that chunk of lakeshore trail to do to complete park......

    also----quick suggestion---actually 2 of them..

    if you have them drop ya off somewhere besides eagle or hazel creek---show them on a map where ya want to go...

    when did that trip---I just said campsite 76......and they really didn't have a clue where that was at......

    when i mentioned the creek in that area---then they knew.....as that's a drop off point for the cemetery visits...

    also I found out that its better to take a later shuttle back to marina as that gave me some buffer time to still hike or in my case check out some of the cemeteries......

    One year I told them to pick me up at ten in morning on hazel and this added stress as I had to finish goin over to 86 at night since I spent so much time doing side trips to cemeteries and also I woke up the next morning and had to scramble to get over to Ollie cove as i didn't know that was pickup point til i woke up and heard about it from other people at campsite...

    luckily, when I got over to Ollie cove ---boat was still there and when I got out into woods in the clearing--I could shout down at them...

  14. #14

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    The marina's website: http://fontanavillage.com/shuttle-services.html

    They've shuttled me twice - once to 81 and once to 86, I think. Unless something has changed, they'll drop you wherever you care to go.

    We also canoed out to 87 and did an overnight there, but that's an island - you wouldn't be walking back from there.

    -FA

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    Thx again. very helpful. Do you recall, roughly, what a 1-way shuttle costs say to Hazel? I've tried calling the marina but no answer. Maybe they are still in winter mode.

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    Keep trying phone....

    i think they are open all year long but know that they go in and out of building all the time.....and may have reduced staff in winter....

    a few years ago the round trip price to eagle or hazel was 50 bucks a person......my guess is that it's gone up a touch due to gas prices.....

    however---they did not charge me when they sent someone over (and he lived in one of the houseboats near marina) to help me find my canoe after being stranded on campsite 87 the island...

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    A lot of great info thanks everyone

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