Explore the best trails near Fontana Dam with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Hiked this trail on 10/23/16 fabulous day for this hike. Leaves at nearly peak. This is a constant climb but very doable if you are in decent condition. Don't be deceived by the milage estimate, you cannot drive across the dam at this time so from the parking lot it is exactly 10 miles round trip. Not crowded at all, saw very few people on the trail. Highly recommend this trail for a clear day.
It was the most amazing hike I've ever been on. Don't go during the winter if you don't like to be cold. It was almost 18 degrees when I went. The view is impeccable. Definitely worth the effort. And it's extremely strenuous. Do not wear shoes with little tread. You will slip and slide all over the leaves and it will add more time and difficulty to your hike. Make sure you have proper hiking shoes. Watch for bears because there have been a few deaths. There's a chart at the beginning of the trail that tells you if there is a lot of activity. The most strenuous and difficult trail of the entire Appalachian trail. So this is not for the novice hiker. The tower at the top is sketchy but awesome. My favorite place to hike.
This hike was more challenging than expected. The beginning mile is a harsh hike to the top of the mountain ridge. The remaining hike is along the ridge line. I was told by the Fontana damn museum employee that the shuckstack trail is the longest continuous ascent in the Appalachian trail. There are only a brief sections where the trail levels out. The last mile is also challenging also the steepest. The tower is amazing and was recently serviced when we went. Each tread had been replaced. The view is incomparable as you are at the highest mountain peak within the range, especially if you make it to the top of the tower. Just be careful. Lastly I read a few reviews that said this is a 7.4 mile round trip hike, this is absolutely incorrect, it's at least 10 miles round trip. It took us 3 hours to get to the top and 2 to get down. I highly recommend at least once.
Very hard hike but so very worth it!! The views from the fire tower are excellent, and the hike up is very scenic in the Fall. Be forewarned of two things: the trail is not well marked, and as of this review you can't cross Fontana Dam by car to get to the trailhead. You have to park at the dam visitor center and walk almost a mile to the Appalachian Trail (which serves as the trailhead).
We did an overnight backpacking trip here, starting with a boat ride from Fontana dam($25) to Hazel creek. From Hazel creek we hiked about 6 miles via lakeshore trail to campsite #90(backcountry permit required and can be acquired through GSMNP). The campsite was awesome, a creek on one side and the river on the other! From campsite #90 we hiked to Fontana dam via lakeshore trail which was about 7 miles. Overall a good trip but the trail is hilly so be prepared, especially day #2.
An awesome trail. We completed this trail unexpectedly when we couldn't get cell service to contact the marina for a ride back from a back country fly-fishing trip. We were actually loaded down with WAY too much gear for a 15 mile trail but managed it. Be ready for serious switch backs at the beginning of the trail. Beautiful scenery, a bit of history and great views of Fontana!
Although this can be a hard hike the views from the tower are well worth the effort. The trail starts to climb from the very start and is said to gain 2100 feet over 3.5 miles. As with any tough climb take plenty of water, proper gear and snacks. You will not want to take this hike without a camera also. There is maybe one great view on the way at what appears to be an old rock slide area but the high point of the trip is the views from the tower. Enjoy!