Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Paddling the Finger Lakes of the Smokies
Check out this great article on
canoeing, kayaking, and boating in the Smokies
and nearby Nantahala.

Paddling in the Great Smokies is primarily done on Fontana Lake, though each spring and following heavy rains, highly skilled local whitewater kayakers dare to challenge steep, crashing mountain streams. However, a wider array of sea kayakers and canoers can ply the waters of Fontana Lake, an artificial impoundment dammed in the 1940s. There are a few landings and marinas scattered along the lake and motorboat traffic is light, especially on weekdays. Paddlers have a large choice of places to go, as there are many backcountry campsites scattered on the shores and islands of Fontana. Some folks like to paddle and camp, then strike out on a foot trail, combining day hiking/backpacking and paddling.

Eagle/Hazel Creek Paddle
Leave Cable Cove Landing (part of the Nantahala National Forest) and paddle east on the main lake. Turn north into the arm of Hazel Creek and camp at Proctor campsite, where there was once a thriving logging town of 1,000 people. Explore the ruins. Backtrack, then head west on the main lake with great views of Shuckstack Mountain to the arm of Eagle Creek. Camp at Lost Cove campsite, where there is ample fishing, swimming, and hiking to Shuckstack.

Chambers/Forney Creek Paddle
Leave Tsali Landing off NC 28 (part of the Nantahala National Forest) and paddle into the main lake. Head east on the main lake and enter the arm of Forney Creek to camp at Lower Forney campsite. Take a day trip to High Rocks and see great views. Head west on Fontana Lake to Chambers Creek backcountry campsite. The camp is a little hard to access from the lake, but the walk up the creek to see pioneer history is worth it.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »