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Smoky Mountains > Things to Do > Outdoors > Hiking > Fontana Dam & Marina Area

Fontana Dam & Marina Area

Rising 480 feet to the southern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Fontana Dam.  The dam holds back the Little Tennessee River, forming Fontana Lake.  Fontana Lake runs along the North Carolina border of the park.  Construction began in 1942, and the first power-producing unit was completed in 1945.  Built for hydroelectric power, the dam generates electricity to the people of Western North Carolina and the Tennessee Valley.  (The Fontana Story)

North Carolina Road 1245 runs across the top of the dam.  This road is also used by the Appalachian Trail to cross into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It is from this road that visitors can enter into the park to access the following trails:

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Appalachian Trail (South)

The southern entry point to the park on the Appalachian Trail is located in the Fontana Dam area.  The trail comes over the dam by using North Carolina Road 1245.  The Appalachian Trail comes in from the Nantahala National Forest, just across the dam.  It is at the end of the road where Appalachian Trail hikers start their uphill climb into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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Lost Cove Trail

Lost Cove Trail branches to the right 3.7 miles up the Appalachian Trail from where it comes in from Fontana Dam.  It is 2.7 miles in length and makes up a section of the Benton MacKaye Trail.  Along the way, Lost Cove Trail passes by Campsite #91.  The trail runs along until it gets to Campsite #90, where it then turns into the Lakeshore Trail, running along the shoreline of Fontana Lake into the Northshore area.  Before Lost Cove Trail gets to Campsite #90, it intersects the Eagle Creek Trail.  People sometimes use the Lost Cove Trail as a loop-hike from the Fontana Dam parking lot.  They go up the Appalachian Trail, turn right onto Lost Cove Trail, then head back to the parking lot on Lakeshore Trail, equaling 11.6 miles total.

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Lakeshore Trail (B)

Near the Appalachian Trail crossing of Fontana Dam, Lakeshore Trail begins to wind along the North Shore of Fontana Lake.  Here, hikers can take the first 5.2 miles of Lakeshore Trail up to Campsite #90 and Eagle Creek Trail.  Find out more about Lakeshore Trail by going to the Northshore area.

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Eagle Creek Trail

Starting at Lakeshore Trail (B), at the end of North Carolina Road 1245, exactly where the Appalachian Trail continues through, take this 5.2 miles to access Eagle Creek Trail,which eventually runs up to Spence Field Shelter. 

Eagle Creek Trailhead begins at the Lost Cove Trail/Benton MacKaye Trail intersection, just feet away from Campsite #90.  Just after passing Campsite #90, Eagle Creek Trail branches off to the left.  Climbing uphill, Eagle Creek Trail follows the creek 8.7 miles to Spence Field Shelter.  On the way up, it passes by Campsites #89, #96, and #97, as well as the water source/spring for those who stay at Spence Field Shelter.  Hikers on the Appalachian Trail who stay at Spence Field Shelter have to come a little ways down Eagle Creek Trail to locate this water source.  The Eagle Creek Trail is 8.9 miles total in length, with the last 0.2 of a mile leading hikers back to the Appalachian Trail.

View the main Smoky Mountain Trails here 

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