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Fontana Lake Paddle & Hike


  • A Guides Choice trip in the Smokies
  • Smokies' beautiful Fontana Lake
  • 3 days of kayaking and hiking
  • Camp 2 nights on an island
  • Hazel Creek, a pristine trout stream
  • Historical ghost town of Proctor, NC
  • Sweeping views from a fire tower


Our Great Smoky Mountains Fontana Lake kayaking, hiking, and camping adventure combines multiple sports to create one unforgettable trip. Fontana Lake is a massive, crystal clear body of water surrounded by lush forests, tall peaks and rushing mountain creeks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. By combining days of kayaking on this beautiful lake and hiking to one of the Park’s best views, we maximize our time in this amazing place.
We start this trip by paddling to Hazel Creek, where we explore stunning Hazel Creek and the fascinating ghost town of Proctor, North Carolina. We camp for two nights on an island with stunning sunset and mountain views, where we'll enjoy lakeside dinners and sunset paddles in the open water. On a layover day we paddle to the far shore and go on a fulfilling hike to one of the best views in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn more or book your spot today on this unique and fulfilling Great Smoky Mountains adventure!
Click here to have a detailed PDF information packet emailed to you, or request a reservation today. You can also call us at 800-715-HIKE.


Photos of the Great Smoky Mountains

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Shuttle to the lake: 2-hour drive from Asheville
Paddling Duration: 3+ hours
Hiking Mileage: 2 miles

This multi-day Great Smoky Mountains Kayak and Hiking trip departs from the Cable Cove Boat ramp. We'll paddle across the lake to Hazel Creek and enjoy a 2 mile hike and picnic lunch near the historic "town" of Proctor. We'll continue paddling to our island camp, which is our home for the next 2 nights. From camp we can explore more by boat, relax in a hammock, or enjoy some swimming in the lake's clear cool waters. We'll celebrate our first night under the stars with a feast of a dinner before settling in for the night.

Day 2

Paddling duration: 2 hours
Hiking Mileage: 6.6 miles
Elevation Loss/Gain: 2,260 feet

Today starts with a delicious Appalachian breakfast and relaxed departure from our island camp. We paddle to our hiking trail today at the mouth of Eagle Creek. Our hike starts by leaving the shores of Fontana Lake, and following an old logging historic railway. Along our journey we will ford Lost Cove Creek many times while enjoying the amazingly diverse forests of the Smokies. Our goal today is reaching some of the Park's best mountain top views from the historic Shuckstack fire tower. After lunch, we’ll retrace our steps back to our boats and end our day with a relaxing evening paddle back to our island home and another fantastic backcountry meal prepared by your guide and (hopefully) a stunning sunset!

Day 3

Paddling duration: 3 miles
Shuttle to Asheville: 2-hour drive to Asheville

Our final day of this unique Appalachian adventure starts with a hearty breakfast. We will then break camp, pack our boats, and head off for another amazing paddling session to our waiting shuttle at Cable Cove Boat Launch. From here we will shuttle to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest for lunch and a short hike though an amazing old growth grove of giant trees before driving back to Asheville and your hotel, and saying our good-byes.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Kayak, life jacket, and paddle
  • Dry bags
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Great Smoky Mountains kayaking and hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Asheville, North Carolina to the trailhead and back
  • Entrance fees and national park permits
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Dry bags
  • Kayaks, life jackets and paddles
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone

What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

You will meet your guide and group at the Holiday Inn in downtown Asheville (standard rooms are $99-$140 for our guests, 828-225-5550) for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. We're happy to give you a ride to this meeting if you're not staying at the Holiday Inn. Your guide will then pick you up the next morning for transport to the trailhead. For Private Great Smoky Mountains Tours your guide can meet you at any hotel in Asheville at an agreed upon time.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time).

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The maximum group size on this trip is 5 guests and 1 guide. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Great Smoky Mountains

The weather in the Great Smoky Mountains varies greatly by time of year. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). Read below for average high and low temperatures in for low elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Low Elev
High Elev
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