Mar 5, 2010 at 10:44 am #1256108
Trying to organize the trip. was going to take my time and do it in 4 days/three nights (will be driving in from ATL on thursday, driving back to ATL on sunday). Any tips, side trails i should know about? where should i camp/best campsites? Thanks in advance.Mar 5, 2010 at 11:29 am #1582380
This is my favorite side of the park! I have hiked this trail twice, both West and East. If you Fly Fish you will cross some of the "Crown Jewel" trout streams the park has to offer on the Lakeshore Trail. If you haven't already,do a little research on the history of this area. It will add tremendousy to your experience.
I will be in the Smokies in a few weeks doing an 80 mile loop hike in this area.
I could type for hours but I'm at work. If you want to discuss it send me a PM and I will give you my cell#.
A word of caution. Pay close attention to "boat only sites". I have met many hikers that plan to camp at these only to find out "woops"!
Mark…Mar 5, 2010 at 6:44 pm #1582601
I don’t know the direction your are taking for the Lakeshore Trail but here are a few tidbits of info you may find handy. You may already know these but others contemplating this trial may find them useful? Traveling West to East.
1. If parking at Fontana Dam park at the upper lot above the visitors center. Park service prefers this and I have parked here safely many times. There is a small parking area at the trailhead but the dam is closed to vehicle traffic and this lot is not accessible presently.
2. Visitors Center has maps, gifts, drinks etc… Restrooms are available here with a shower facility. The backcountry pass board is located on the left end of the restroom facility
3. If you come in the night before and you don’t mind shelters the Fontana “Hilton” shelter is just up the hill(small parking area on the right) before you get to the VC.
4. The trailhead is across the dam. Stay to the right and the road dead ends at the Lakeshore and AT. AT to the left and the LS Trail straight ahead.
EAST SIDE- I would not park at the “Tunnel” (Road to No Where dead end) unless day hiking only. Too many break ins! Leave car at Fontana and shuttle here. Jeff and Nancy at the “Hike-Inn” is who I used and recommend.
#90- Fairly large/ just off Eagle Creek/can be busy as this is also a popular horse camp/ popular with bear but no worries.
#88- This is the newest campsite on LS Trail. Medium size to the right about a mile before #86. Water source is a small feeder stream that you step over when entering the camp trail.
#86- Large, nice, well known, camp on Hazel Creek. Likely to be busy depending on time of year. Hazel Creek is very rich in history and to some, the finest trout stream in the GSMNP! When you stand in front of the old Calhoun house the campsite is just across the creek.
#81- Medium size, down a small hill, a with a small stream for water supply. Have not camped here but have stopped twice for a snack. Don’t know why but I have always liked this little spot?
#77- Small site with water
#76- Very small campsite and thus why I like it. Stayed here twice. Water to the left of camp.
#98- Very disappointed in the lack of LNT by the horse campers at this site! Moved on due to horse poo, trash, and flies. Good water supply. I would pull water well above the campsite or any for that matter.
#74- Fairly large nice site on Forney Creek. Can be busy depending on time of year. Another fly fishing destination and relatively easy road access for hikers.
* The few negatives I intimated pale in comparison to the natural beauty of this trail and really bare no weight. I have hiked this trail fall and spring and will do it again. I have seen more bears here then any trail in the park! Never been mocked charged. They are always busy heading south!
The above information is from memory and subject to change so double check my thoughts as I did not do a detailed analysis of my prior hikes….
Have a great hike and I will happily answer any questions…MarkMar 8, 2010 at 5:45 am #1583459
thanks much. planning my trip in mid may…how is weather usually? any good site for weather updates around the lake? lots of bugs, or will a tarp be fine. was thinking about brining a rod and catching dinner, but how worried about bears should i be?Mar 8, 2010 at 6:37 am #1583467
Weather – Tough one! The Smokies weather patterns are kind of fickle. Different areas have their own microclimate. Having said that,I think you will most likely have beautiful weather based upon my own treks in May. Rain is always on the menue but has never ruined my hike. Night's will likely be in the mid to upper 40's and days 70's +/-(?).
Weather Sites – Just type in Fontana Dam/Lake in several weather sites and you should be able to get a general idea. Unless there is VERY bad weather in the forcast I would just go and have some rain gear at the ready. My rule of thumb is pack for a 20 degree temp change. This has always worked well for me in the mountains.
Bugs- I'll have to say,of all the places I have hiked the bugs here have never presented a problem. I have NEVER seen or been bitten by a skeeter. Serously! Ants are at the camp sites however. I have tented,hammocked,cowboy camped(my favorite) and tarped all without incident.
Fishing- By all means bring a rod. Rainbow and Brown's dominate the lower elevation streams with Brookies at the upper elevations. I'm a fly fishing guy and love dry fly fishing. A couple Elk Hair Caddis, Blue Wing Olives and Parachute Adams are all I have ever needed for a day on the stream. Just check the park regs for spinning rods. O,I never cook in camp,but that's just me….
Bears – Don't sweat it! I hike solo 99% of the time(much to my wife's chagrin) and have seen lots of bears without incident. Saw a momma and 3 cubs on this very trail last October. I don't carry bear spray or a gun(which is legal with permit). Hike and enjoy but bring bear spray etc..if this is your hiking style.
Mark….Mar 8, 2010 at 6:50 am #1583468
@jgriffithLocale: Southeast U.S.
As you asked about side trails I will mention that when I took the lost cove trail from the lakeshore trail last Spring there were several stream crossings and a few times we were not able to keep our feet out of the water (believe me, we tried). Thus if you choose to take that route to access shuckstack or the twentymile trailhead, it may be unavoidable. No big deal in Spring, but not that great in January.Mar 8, 2010 at 7:53 am #1583486
is that a good side trail? how long does it take to get up to the sstack fire tower (then i just backtrack to the trail)? what other side trails would you do? Thanks in advanceMar 8, 2010 at 9:54 am #1583534
PAUL RICHARDSONBPL Member
It is a steep climb up to the Shuckstack fire tower, but IMHO worth it. It is an absolute beautiful view. If you can work it into your trip, I would definitely do it.Mar 8, 2010 at 11:24 am #1583583
Shuckstack's future is uncertain? I would most certainly make the trip here! In my opinion it provides one of the best views of the Southern Applachian's!
Having done both I would take the AT up to Shuckstack(enjoy the view, take pics,hopefully not socked in) and then take Lostcove down to the lakeshore trail.
I know you want to complete the entirety of the Lakeshore Trail but the 5 miles of lakeshore from Fontana to BC 90/Lakeshore Trail are my least favorite. There are some old vintage car remains and a bear cage on this trail so for photo ops you may find this inviting. When I say least favorite I mean their are no great views(not even the lake.) I have hiked this section about 6 times so my opinion is somewhat skewed.
*Everyday in the Smokies is a great day!
Mark…Mar 9, 2010 at 5:48 am #1583950
mark, is there a way to do the sstack hike and omit the 5 miles from fontana to bc90? was going to hike from the tunnel to the dam (parking at dam and getting shuttled to the road)…any ideas? thanks for all your helpMar 9, 2010 at 9:16 am #1584015
Question -"is there a way to do the sstack hike and omit the 5 miles from fontana to bc90"?
Answer- Absolutely, You will be traveling West so when you get to bc#90 walk through camp and simply continue up the trail to the left of campsite. Around a 1/4 mile +/- you will reach the Lakeshore/Lost Cove trail split. Lakeshore to the left and LostCove straight ahead(Trails are well marked). This will take you to the Appalachian Trail,Shuckstack and back to Fontana.
The AT Trailhead where you finish is practically right next to the Lakeshore Trailhead! There is a small parking area here. You will have about a half mile or so walk back to and across Fontana Dam.
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