Fontanna Lake

Any one ever paddled the lake?

I’d like to go here and would like some info on it and on Eagle Creek. Trying to locate a map of it if possible.



Yea, sure. Pleasant flatwater paddling in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains. The lake was quite low this year due to the drought. You might also check out Santeelah Lake which is nearby and probably even more scenic.

Johnny Molloy
Contact him, he is an outdoor writer and has written several books about the area.

you’ll love it
do a search on (archives) on some past paddle trips there-mine and others. What I like about Fontana is that you can paddle for a while, set up camp, then day hike into the Smokies into areas that not that many get to see. Hazel Creek has the history of Proctor and is just a cool area. Couple of years ago i got shuttles from Fontana Village (left a vehicle at Cable Cove) to Tsali then slowly paddled back over a couple of days…this time of year-esp. if you can go during the week, the entire lake will be yours…OK, its a long lake and can get a fetch of wind up so know that, but the water is warm currently and yes very low (did a trip this summer with the daughters) but that makes camping spots even easier to find…all three of us use hammocks so we climbed to the ridge tops for our spots to get wind for cool and no bugs…blah blah blah–awesome place…let me know when you are going, I would go back in a heart beat.

For a decent map, good enough to plan your camping spots go to the NPS website and download the pdf map of Great Smoky Mountains NP. I’ve walked across the park a couple of times on the AT and Fontana is just another great angle on GSMNP.

Was just up there Tuesday. Fontana
is very low. For some strange reason, Santeetlah was full. Calderwood and Cheoah were both full, as they almost always are.

training classes?
Does the Nantahala Outdoor Center still teach classes on Fontana? Great place.

Both NOC and Endless River Adventures use the portion of Fontana that is closest to Wesser for flatwater and roll instruction for their whitewater clinics. I believe that both also run guided sea kayak day trips on the lake.

We spent our honeymoon there
and are going back for our 25th anniversary next April. Hopefully the water level will be back up close to normal by then.

Check Cheoah and Calderwood.
A full lake is almost guaranteed. Cheoah is accessed either from the east end below the dam, or at 20 Mile Creek along the highway. Calderwood is accessed from a spur on the NW corner of the hwy 129 crossing below Cheoah dam. To get to Calderwood’s access ramp, go past the new construction… they are building a raft ramp for anticipated new recreational WW releases on the Cheoah.

Eagle Creek
isn’t on the map that’s on the NPS web site.

About the only info I’ve found on it is from others trip reports and then it’s just barely mentioned. No details GPS cordinates or anything like that. I think I’ll call a few outfitters in the area there and see what they have.


eagle creek
what are you looking for on eagle creek? it is the first major creek you’ll come to tracing the lake shore north from fontana dam. it is decent trout stream, has a number of designated campsites on the creek and has a paddle accessible campsite right at the mouth of the creek. easily reached by boat from either fontana marina or the cable cove usfs boat ramp. i could look up and give you gps coords for any of it but you can do that as easily as i by going to google earth or topozone. the scenery is beautiful the lake is inviting and you’ll surely have a good time. if you want to avoid the majority of motorboats stay away on summer weekends or adjust to having them and continue your own trip. hope this is helpful. if you have any more specific questions feel free to post.


Cheoah and Calderwood
Any points of interest along Lakes Calderwood and Cheoah? Thanks

Here is our plan
We are going to Tumbling Waters Campground in Nov. for about a week with the in-laws. While there myself & B in-law are thinking of doing an overnight canoe trip with the kids. Since Fontana Lake is there and on the edge of the Smokies we thought it would be a great place to do an overnighter. Some how found Eagle Creek and the name sounded good, so we are looking for info and a map of it.

Try the Tennessee Valley Authority
for a map or I’m sure you can get one at NRS.I would look into Calderwood or Santeetlah though. Fontana has been drained WAY down and it could be a serious straight up hike to camp on it. If you call the Fontana Village Marina, I’m sure they can give you accurate conditions.

I think Calderwood is the more
interesting. Slickrock Creek is on the south side of the lake, near the Calderwood boat ramp. You can park your paddlecraft and hike up Slickrock… if you press past some difficult spots, you can get to lower Slickrock Falls.

Going on up Calderwood, there is a spot on the right (east) bank where an old railroad tunnel was drowned, and you can see just a peek of daylight through it. Farther north, on the right bank, are creek inlets of various sizes. The lake orientation turns from NNW/SSE to SE. We haven’t been past the turn in the lake, as we were so busy stopping at inlets, etc. Calderwood is pretty deeply intrenched until it nears the dam. There are no highways right along Calderwood, but hwy 28 is way up above the north end of the lake, and we heard some motorcycle noise there, in the distance.

Cheoah has fewer big creek inlets (one of those being Twentymile where the ramp is), and hwy 129/28 is high up on the north bank. You may hear the motorcycles on Dragons Tail more on Cheoah than you will on Calderwood. Nevertheless, the south bank of Cheoah is largely undeveloped, the north bank often LOOKS undeveloped, and there are few motorboats.

Fontana and Calderwood has decent map of Fontana and other SE lakes. Fontana is about 50’ below full due to drought and seasonal drawdown. The remains of an old copper mine are above water near the head of Eagle Creek. There is a National Park campground a short distance upstream from there. I believe registration is required to use this site and is available at the Fontana Marina. Low water might mean a short hike to the campsite. The scenery there is superb! Calderwood Lake has very few level campsites. A small one at Slickrock Creek with room for a couple of tents. There is another nice site about 6-7 miles downstream on the right where a small stream enters the lake. The old railroad tunnel is passable if lake elevation is 963’ or less. Check for lake levels in the area. These two lakes are probably my favorites, I’m usually at one or both of them every week or so.

Fontana Honeymoon
I was playing chef at Fontana Village 25 yrs ago so I might have sauted a trout for you.

TVA controls the lake level and they can make it ugly sometimes.

I didn’t know what a kayak was back then; just did a lot of water skiing.

NC/Tenn Lakes
Thanks all who posted here. This is very good info. Any thoughts on Fall color, like maybe when the optimum might occur this year. Thanks.

I was there
March 27 - 29th, 1983 - wow, small world! I had no idea what a kayak was, either, but the hike to the top of the mountain on the AT just about did me in :}.

maybe someone plan
a p-net get-to-gether on Fontana…if its my off week I’d love to attend.