Fly Fishing Hazel Creek

Hazel Creek
By Don Kirk
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Hazel Creek
Size : Large
Fishing pressure : Moderate to very heavy in the lower portion; relatively light to modern in the upper portion above 2,500 feet
Fishing quality : Excellent
Access : Fontana Lake; Hazel Creek Trail
USGS quads : Tuskeegee, NC; Thunderhead, NC-TN; Silers Bald, NC-TN

All roads leading into Hazel Creek were closed during World War II when Fontana Lake was impounded. The isolation has helped spare the stream, and enabled it to maintain high-quality fishing.

Crossing the lake by boat is perhaps the easiest and most popular way to visit Hazel Creek. For a modest sum, the operators of the Fontana Village Resort Marina provide transportation across the lake by arrangement. One really nice feature of going this route is being relieved of worrying about the safety of your boat.

You may encounter a variety of strange-looking vehicles on these trails that appear to be a cross between a wheelbarrow and a bicycle. These versatile contraptions, known as"Smoky Mountain pushcarts," are constructed of lightweight materials such as tubular aluminum and tires from ten-speed bicycles.

Such backcountry rarities as coolers full of perishable foods, lanterns, cots, and big tents are transported up the stream in these rigs by local fishermen unwilling to compromise their fishing trips with the usual backcountry fare of freeze-dried foods and cramped hiking tents.

Stay on the Trail

The Hazel Creek Trail follows the stream. The trailhead is located near the mouth of the stream on Fontana Lake. The Proctor backcountry campsite (#86, capacity 20), located 0.5 miles upstream from the lake, is a popular base camp. Upstream from this site is the "Horseshoe," noted for its excellent trout fishing.

At 3.3 miles is the Sawdust Pile backcountry campsite (#85, capacity 20), also popular with backcountry fishermen. The poetic"Brown Pool" is nearby. Its famous waters have been the sight of the day's last cast for countless anglers.

At 5 miles the trail reaches the junction of Sugar Fork and the trailhead of the Sugar Fork Trail. Located nearby is the Sugar Fork backcountry campsite (#84, capacity 8), which is well-suited as a fishing camp. At 5.6 miles the trail arrives at the mouth of Bone Valley Creek, also the trailhead for the Bone Valley Trail and the site of the Bone Valley backcountry campsite (#83, capacity 20).

At 8.6 miles the trail reaches the Calhoun Camp backcountry campsite (N.P.S. #82, capacity 15), and continues to the junction of Hazel Creek and Walker Creek at 9.5 mile. The junction of Proctor Creek and the Proctor Creek backcountry campsite (#81, capacity 15) is at 10.5 miles.

The trail upstream from the Proctor Creek site becomes steeper and more difficult to travel. At 13.5 miles the trail reaches the Hazel Creek Cascades backcountry campsite (#80, capacity 12), located at an elevation of more than 4,000 feet, well into the heart of the brook trout fishery. The trail upstream from the cascades is steep, though open and passable.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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