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FOTS hikers explore historic Lakeshore Trail area

November 9, 2017

hikers at Hall Cabin

by Julie Dodd

Friends of the Smokies hikers had the opportunity to explore trails in the Fontana Lake area and learn more about history of the area at a special two-day event (Aug. 28-29), with an overnight at Fontana Village.

The hikers in Danny Bernstein’s group reached the Hazel Creek area by taking a pontoon boat from the Fontana Marina across Fontana Lake. Photo by Marielle DeJong

The event included three hikes. The first day, hikers joined Danny Bernstein for a 6.6-mile hike on the Twenty Mile Loop. On the second day, hikers could choose between two hikes —  Lakeshore Trail (6 miles) with JP Smith or a 15.5-mile hike to Hall Cabin (see photo at top of the page) in the Hazel Creek area with Bernstein.

Terry “Square” and Jean-Marie Taylor were two of the almost 60 hikers who enjoyed the event. They shared their experience:

“The dinner outside on the deck at Fontana Village was a wonderful chance to talk face to face with the people we’d been hiking beside all day. The fireside talk after dinner by Dr. Dan Pierce (of UNC Asheville) was interesting. He talked about an area of the Smokies that we were not familiar with, Hazel Creek. We were inspired enough to buy his book – Hazel Creek: The Life and Death of an Iconic Mountain Town. JP’s hike was very pleasant. We hiked along the lake, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and appreciated JP’s knowledge of the area. This was our first hike with FOTS. The best part was meeting people with diverse backgrounds.”

JP Smith, who has hiked all the trails in the Smokies, shared her experience leading a hike to the old cars on the Lakeshore Trail.

Lakeshore hike with JP Smith

JP Smith’s hiking group explored the Lakeshore Trail. Photo by Anna Zanetti

“There were 23 in my group and the hike was about six miles round trip. It wasn’t a long hike at all, but I did take the group beyond the cars so that they could get a really good view of Fontana.

“Normally, a 6-mile hike with little elevation would take about 2 1/2 hours but because we were a group with varying hiking speeds, I took my time to accommodate all, so I think it was about three hours in duration.

“It was a beautiful day and the temperature was just perfect for the hike. The fact that we went beyond the five old cars to get a better view of the lake just added to the overall experience. Just a tid bit of info on the cars … as best I could determine, the cars were left when the folks had to move due to opening of the dam … because this was the time of the depression and rationing, there was either no fuel or they could not procure replacement tires so the cars were left by the wayside.

“It is best if you hike Lakeshore in the fall or early spring as it is very hot in the summer months. Lakeshore covers the area from Lost Cove in Fontana to the ‘road to nowhere’ over in Bryson City.”

You can read more about the hike to Hall Cabin on Danny Bernstein‘s blog.

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Now is your opportunity to explore the Lakeshore area in the fall.

Friends of the Smokies will hike the North Shore Road Loop on Tuesday, Nov. 14, as the November Classic Hike of the Smokies.

The guided hike will travel 9.4 miles and ascend 1,350 ft. Gracia Slater, two-time member of the Smokies 900-Mile Club and dedicated trail caretaker, will lead.

Those interested in seeing the famous tunnel on the Lakeshore Trail will have the opportunity to walk through it and learn about the fascinating and complicated history of the area, including the flooding of NC 288 and five communities following the construction of Fontana Dam by the TVA in the 1930s. The hike will also include a stop at the Woody Cemetery.

The monthly guided day hikes in the Classic Hikes series are $20 for members. New and renewing members may join Friends of the Smokies and hike for $35. Donations benefit Friends of the Smokies’ Trails Forever program, which provides the opportunity for a highly skilled trail crew to focus reconstruction efforts on high use and high priority trails in the park.

You can register online for Classic Hikes or contact Marielle@FriendsOfTheSmokies.org