Fontana Lake Touring Trip suggestions?

-- Last Updated: Sep-11-06 4:01 PM EST --

Hello all, I am new to, but not to kayaking. I spend about 80% of my summer boating weekends on whitewater, but I am looking to do a solo touring trip on the western side of Fontana Lake. I am trying to gather as much info as I can about this area as I can. I visited the dam and Cable Cove this past weekend following a nantahala paddling trip, so I have a general feel for the area. I am planning on taking this trip on October 12-15. I am trying to gather as much info on camping locations as I can. I understand that you may camp anywhere in the Nantahala National Forest that isn't marked otherwise, but is this also true along the south shore of Fontana? Additionally, would there be any issues with camping in the national park (north side of lake) at this time of year? Are there any highlights to see while on this side of the lake, other than the dam?

Any and all info, tips, suggestions, etc will be greatly appreciated!

Seakayaker Mag Feb 2004
Has an in-depth story about Fontana. Should have all the info you seek. unfortunately it is not on-line, so you will have to order a cack issue from them.


Fontana Lake
Last year in May I spent one week paddling the lake, that article was very, very useful.

Personal suggestion: bring a kayak cart, most of the campsites are about 1 mile inland, carrying all equipment on your shoulders is not fun.

Recommend you consider Calderwood
and Cheoah lakes, the next two downstream. They are quieter, and they tend to stay full or nearly full, while Fontana will draw down, revealing a broad bathtub ring.

Calderwood is an easy access of hwy 129 by the Cheoah dam, while Cheoah can be accessed at a small gravel beach off hwy 28, right by Twenty Mile Creek.

I paddled the lake in July
It was a great, but there was some powerboat traffic. There are numerous backcountry campsites on the north side of the lake in the National Park. The ones I stayed at (76 and 73) were right on the water.

When I went it looked like it would be difficult to find a location to camp in the National Forest on the south side.

something to remember about GSMNP
GSMNP is a national park and like most it requires a backcountry permit for overnighting in the park…at the marina at Fontana Village there is a kiosk where you can fill one out…if you go during the week you will see little boat traffic this time of year…def. go up Hazel Creek and experience the old are of Proctor that ceased to exist long ago…go to and look up GSMNP and then download the pdf map of the park, you will see inumerable campsites along what was the Lakeshore Trail (now the Benton McKaye Trail)-the campsites on this trail are the ones i used when i paddled there. I also used a kayak shuttle via the outfitter in Fontana Village and my vehicle was left at Cable Cove…i began my paddle at Tsali…this whole area is worth exploring…Tsali for mountain biking, GSMNP for over 800 miles of hiking trails besides the Appalachian Trail that goes through it…the Shining Rock Wilderness, Joyce Kilmer, and as mentioned in posts above other lakes in the region—the finger lakes of the south as they are called.