August Classic Hike: A.T.-Lost Cove-Lakeshore Loop

September 13, 2021

group photo of FOTS hikers

by Steve Pierce, hike leader

Lost Cove Trail sign

Eighteen hikers took on a challenging and rewarding hike in the Smokies on August 10.

We met at 9:00 at the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) trailhead at Fontana Dam and began the 3.7 ascent to Shuckstack on the A.T. 

During the steady climb we had glimpses of Lake Fontana through the trees and later of the mountains to the south and west. 

Most hikers took the side trail to the Shuckstack Lookout Tower to get the 360-degree view of Fontana Dam and Lake Fontana as well as the surrounding mountains. 

After a snack we regrouped and continued the short distance to the Lost Cove Trail.

We began our descent on Lost Cove Trail through a shady hardwood cove forest.

We soon heard the tributaries that would become Lost Cove Creek. 

These were easy rock hops as we continued down the trail. We stopped for lunch at Campsite 91, and several of us changed into water shoes for the stream crossings ahead. 

A short distance and we came to the first of six wet stream crossings.  These were moderately deep, and the cool water felt good on our feet.

Everyone made it through the crossings and changed back to hiking boots at the junction with the Lakeshore Trail. 

Before we started up the Lakeshore Trail, we honored Marielle DeJong with an arch of hiking poles as she completed her Smokies 900 Challenge, hiking all the trails in the GSMNP.  Congratulations, Marielle!

The section of the Lakeshore Trail is 5.2 miles of ascents and descents with a few glimpses of the lake through the trees.  Everyone hiked at their own pace as the heat and humidity of the day was being felt. 

Fontana Lake view
View of Lake Fontana. Photo by Linda Spangler

This section of the trail passes through areas where many people lived prior to the dam and the lake.  We saw five abandoned cars in varying states of decay along the trail. These automobiles are silent reminders of the once thriving communities all along the North Shore of Lake Fontana. 

abandoned car in GSMNP
Abandoned car along the North Shore of Lake Fontana. Photo by Linda Spangler

One last bit of drama was provided by a rattlesnake off the left side of the trail. We waited for it to move a little further off the trail and slipped by on the right side.

After 11.9 miles, 2,700 feet of elevation gain, and an equal amount of elevation loss, we arrived at our cars at 4:30 p.m. with a feeling of accomplishment. 

The A.T.-Lost Cove-Lakeshore Loop is a challenging hike with lots of variety. 

Thanks to all who hiked and had a good day on the trails in this more remote section of the park.


Thanks to Linda Spangler for providing her photographs for this post and many other FOTS blog posts.

Registration process

The Classic Hikes are the second Tuesday of the month, from March through December.

The remaining hikes are: Sept. 14 – Mt. Cammerer, Oct. 12 – Noland Creek, Nov. 9 – Boogerman Loop, Dec. 14 – Old Sugarlands Trail.

Registration for one hike is $35 for new members, which includes a one-year FOTS membership and one hike, or $20 for current FOTS members.

You must register for the hike prior to the day of the hike.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by emailing marielle@friendsofthesmokies.org

Trails Forever improves GSMNP trails

Proceeds from the Classic Hike series benefit Trails Forever.

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Friends of the Smokies established the Trails Forever endowment in 2012, thanks to a matching gift from the Aslan Foundation in Knoxville.

Today, the endowment has grown to more than $6 million and funds a full-time trail crew in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to reconstruct and rehabilitate some of the park’s most impacted trails.

The FOTS Trails Forever crew restored Forney Ridge TrailChimney Tops TrailAlum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail and last year completed Trillium Gap Trail.

This year, Trails Forever is restoring the Abrams Creek Trail.

Learn more about contributing to the Trails Forever endowment.

Sponsored by:

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