Wilderness Lake paddling in eastern TN

I just moved to Nashville last fall and I’m ready to start paddling again. I’ve heard of a lot of river and stream paddling nearby (which I enjoy of course), but I was wondering if anyone could suggest a lake (eastern TN maybe) that would be good for a few days of paddling, exploring and camping without a lot of traffic. Any places of the sort near/in the Smokies?


do a google on Tenn, I did a while ago and saw some nice looking lake paddling areas - sorry can’t remember what they were…

A little further
If you don’t mind going a little further into North Carolina, Lake Fontana is great. A little low during the wintertime though. Also, there are about 40 of us from paddling.net going to spend a few days on Lake Jocassee in western SC. Have you tried Percy Priest lake?

2nd Percy Priest
Great little lake, lots of access and almost all park land around it. Look for fossils at the landings down at the end of Anderson Rd. when the water level is low.

Where is Percy Priest? Off SC11 in SC???

If you want Northeastern TN, I love Watauga Lake. It’s big, gets a lot of boat traffic in summer, but wide enough to stay away from them too~

Percy Priest Lake
Its right next door to Nashville.

We were on Lake Calderwood weekend of
April 4, and there were very few powerboats, just fishermen who tended to stay in one place. Calderwood is two lakes down from Fontana, and it stays full or near full most of the time. The lake just above (Cheoah?) was also near full. (Fontana was WAY down.)

Calderwood is a narrow lake, mostly forested on both sides. The left side is Slickrock Wilderness, and we paddled up Slickrock Creek to see the three kinds of trillium and other early wildflowers.

We were in a canoe, and I can’t say whether Calderwood would give you more than one overnight’s worth of sea kayaking. The lake above is larger, but hwy 28 follows its northern bank, though the highway stays well up the bank most of the time. Very few buildings or habitation.

The put-in for Calderwood is on a camping/boating access spur on the NW corner of the bridge crossing over the top of the lake.

with archeitex on this board. He is up there in the Eastern corner of your fine State!

Mountain lake
I’m gonna let you in on a BIG secret called Apalachia Lake, in western NC. Apalachia Dam is a TVA dam on the Hiwasee river right on the State line with TN. the state line actually crosses the face of the dam. The lake is not as big as most others, and doesn’t recieve as much boat traffic due to it remoteness and fewer boat ramps. The water is usually cold all summer long, because it is fed from the water coming from the turbines at Hiwasse Dam upstream, and that water comes out of the bottom of the lake. Get a map, and look for a gravel road on the north side of the lake, which will provide a lot of canoe access points. The rainbow trout an grow to lake trout proportions in this lake, and the shoreline has very few in no house or development due to the national forest and tva land that surrounds it. Hiwassee is big, gets crowded and gets a thermal layer in the summer.

Appalachia almost feels like a northern lake, and away from the dam, has a lot less bot traffic!

tn. paddlin’
if you want to paddle for days, w/camping, fishing, wildlife, etc. go to Kentucky lake. A real good source of info as to locations is TVA, look @ there maps for dam locations. have fun be safe

One option
Well, it isn’t exactly “wilderness”, but there is a Blueway on the Tennessee River - it runs at least the length of Hamilton County, maybe longer. I don’t mind the semi urban sort of feel to the river around town. There is still wildlife to be seen, and traffic isn’t all that bad even on weekends so long as you avoid the lakes.

Other options - Fontana is nice, as someone else pointed out. There is a bit of nice paddle on and around the Hiwasse (some of which is small whitewater, but most of which is not). If you don’t mind some whitewater mixed in, the water on and coming off of the Cumberland Plateau is wonderful - Clear Creek Canyon is one of the prettiest spots I’ve ever paddled (but the run we used to do was a solid Class III, Ocoee style, and probably a good Class IV at higher water). I think there may be some flat or almost flat stuff in the same area though.