Explore the most popular Lake trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I hiked from Clingmans Dome, not in the recording, to Fontana Dam. The trail was in good shape. This was the hardest hike I have done in the Smokies.

13 days ago

Great hike. Enjoyed all of it and the views from the tower are incredible.

good views and great workout

1 month ago

Rated as moderate, I would say yes with a light pack, but I would say hard with a heavy pack as half the loop is uphill. Nevertheless, a great hike with two backcountry campsites (93, 95) nearby if you plan to stay overnight. As stated by other reviewers , there's many footbridges to cross (watch your step! Some are very slick) but few areas you have to cross directly through the water (and none deep). I would highly recommend this trail to anybody wanting a challenging hike with backcountry camping access. Also, the Twentymile Ranger Station is only three miles max from campsite 95; 1.5 miles from campsite 93 in case of any emergency. Parking available at the Ranger Station.

2 day trip. Saw bear on day 1, bear with 4 cubs and 2 boar on Day 2. Stayed at camp 13 - no one else there, in fact never saw a person for the entire 2 days the first week of August!. Lots of climbing but well worth it.

Nice trail. When the trees lose their leaves, there will be some great views. We didn’t have any problems on the trail. I am not fond of foot bridges and there are about 8 of them. We plan to hike again in the fall or early next year before the trees leaf out

I want to do this hike but I am not sure... looking for a weekend backpacking trip and it seems great from other articles. They say +/- 20 miles and this recording shows 67 miles with elevation change of 16,000 feet!!! There needs to be a way to report these so the proper info can be given for hike planning

Done in 2014.

over grown
2 months ago

Nice, moderately easy 4ish hr day hike loop. However a lot of down trees, one area in particular, around half way, is a large thicket that’s pretty difficult to get over. We also saw a bear cub which was great, but be mindful of where the mom bear may be. Nice cascades and areas to splash around and cool off though for a hot summer day hike and shaded throughout

The dam road was still closed so this added a little over 2 miles RT to walk to the trailhead and back. Total mileage according to my GPS was 9.26 (including the dam road). Although the trail was long and the elevation gain was almost 2500 ft. the terrain was not difficult to navigate. The fire tower was cool. I did not go to the top, just to the second platform and that was high enough to gain beautiful views all around. Great hike, I enjoyed it a lot.

A nice hike, not very strenuous but not very interesting either. Lots of little stream crossings, including a few ankle-deep waders. Lots of mud too, though it had been a few dry days before my hike. There is a better trailhead than the one shown on the map for the out-of-park beginning of Gold Mine Trail - turn right on Stegner Cir. and go about 1/4 mile; look to the right for the trailhead.

just spent 6 days hiking this section of the AT, southbound. Not 67 miles, more like 35ish? stayed in shelters three times, tent twice. beautiful!

We hiked in from the boat shuttle drop off. Wonderful dirt road, easy slight incline in for about 6.3 miles with beautiful Hazel Creek to our side the entire time. Campsites are all wonderful. We stayed at site 83. Thoroughly enjoy the long weekend even though the fish weren’t biting much. I highly recommend and hope to do it again.

Great hike for those with time and experience. I say those with time because I misjudged my time and spent about an hour and a half hiking by flashlight. I brought 3 of my kids aged 8, 11, and 15yrs. Though my 8yr old daughter was proud of herself for completing the hike, I would not recommend for someone her age. We saw a deer that let us watch it for about a solid minute. Some great overlooks and cool old cars. I would do this again with a 10yrs and up crowd.

Excellent hike! I went up the Appalachian Trail 1st, lots of uphill until you reach the tower. Amazing views of the Smoky Mountains. Then I took Lost Cove Trail which had a bunch of blowdowns, and 8-10 stream crossings. Over the boots deep so expect to get wet. Then I returned on Lakeshore Trail. Easier going on this section. A handful of old rusted out cars in the woods along this trail. 11.5 miles. Tired but well worth it

Great hike! Much of the hike followed the streams and crossed back and forth over log bridges. Only one blowdown that needs to be cleared. Enjoyed this hike!

Love this trail, fishing is good but they are small. Still worth going & fishing it's not about the size it's about the memories.

Beautiful trail. went down to the lake on a side trail. Grades were not bad, and quite doable. Some scenic bites along three way.

5 months ago

Great trail. Nice easy hike with several creek crossings.

This hike was a moderate difficulty. Although I do hike in the mountains frequently. Once you cross over the Fontana Dam take your first right to follow the road to the end. There will be a parking lot and the trailhead is right there. There is alot of inclines but it levels out in a lot of spots and has a few downhill spots. The last half mile or so increases in incline tremendously and definitely gets harder. Once you get to the tower there's only room for about 5 people at the top. The top is enclosed and has windows you can open up. The view is incredible! I highly recommend this trail.

March 16, 2019. Fontana Dam was open to vehicles and we were able to park right at the trailhead. My recording from here says 6.7 miles and 2228 ft elevation gain, 3:23:53 (paused the recording at the top while we had a snack and climbed the tower). This was a really fun hike. The views at the top are spectacular and it is peaceful and quiet but for the wind. There are good views along the way at this time of year, but probably save your view photos mostly for the top. It takes some work - as everyone has said it’s pretty close to incline the entire 1st half, but there are short intervals of gentler slope or nearly flat where you can catch your breath while continuing to move forward. All of the incline is just hiking, no climbing or hands to the ground (except one instance where a huge tree has fallen and the root base and trunk block the trail, you have to go up and around this which is maybe 5 feet up and back down). Actually near the top you’re going mildly downhill for a good stretch, which is prep for the last half mile which seemed like the steepest part. Significantly colder and windier toward the top, so bring your layers if you go in March.

over grown
washed out
6 months ago

Muddy and wet! Whew! Went during a rainy day, normally rock hopping crossings were waders!

Steady incline and switchbacks the whole way to the tower basically. Also scared of heights but managed to climb the tower and snap a few photos before having to talk my way down.

Incredible views.

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