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Canoeing & Kayaking


Hazel Creek from Cable Cove on Fontana Lake, west of Bryson City NC

This page Copyright 2000 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Al Vazquez
  • Date Submitted: 7/2000
  • Email:
  • Location: about 18 miles west of Bryson City NC
  • Class: flatwater
  • Distance Paddled: 7 miles round trip
  • Water: fresh and cold
  • Wildlife: deer, black bear, butterflies, tall trees

Entry and Exit

  • Directions: From Bryson City, take Route 74 / 19 about 8 miles (over the Little Tennessee River). Exit northwest on Route 28 toward Almond. Follow Route 28 about 10 miles and turn into the Cable Cove park entry on the right (north). Follow the signs to the Fontana Lake boat ramp.
  • GPS: N 35 deg 26.262' W 083 deg 44.878'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: unpaved ramp
  • Parking: unpaved gravel
  • Facilities: none, but restrooms, picnic areas and camping in Cable Cove Park

What We Saw

This trip takes you to a great lunch takeout at Proctor, a ghost town created when Fontana Lake was created in 1944 by the dam. You'll have a paddle up Hazel Creek into the Great Smoky Mountain national Forest.

Be sure to take some walking shoes or comfortable sandals for the short hike to Proctor at the other end.

From the Cable Cove put in, head straight across Fontana Lake just over half a mile to the wide mouth of Hazel Creek shown at left at

GPS: N 35 deg 26.683' W 083 deg 45.256'

It's hard to miss because there is a Hazel Creek sign posted on the right bank of the mouth facing up the creek.

Watch for recreational boat traffic crossing Fontana Lake and make sure they see you. There isn't much traffic, but fast boats and jet skis do frequent the crossing.

Thick forests line steep mountain slopes bordering both sides of the creek. If you're fortunate and keep your eyes open, you may see wildlife on the slopes.

The water was surprisingly warm on Fontana Lake. We passed several boats taking a dip.

Almost 3 miles into the paddle, you'll bear left to continue up the creek as it curves back and forth and narrows.

3.4 miles into the paddle you'll see the takeout and path to Proctor shown at left at

GPS: N 35 deg 28.325' W 083 deg 43.744'

When we took this photo, the water was exceptionally high. It could look different otherwise.

We took our kayaks out and walked up the path to the left to campgrounds in the Proctor area.

Picnicking among the tall trees of Proctor was a treat.

At one time, lumber was the primary industry in Proctor in the early part of the century when it was a thriving community.

If you continue up the path beyond the camp grounds, you'll come to a bridge over the now narrow and unnavigable creek. There is a Forest Service marker there that gives a history of the ghost town.

There is still resentment in the area over broken promises by the federal government in regard to Proctor. It seems the town was promised a new access road to reconnect it with the rest of the world after Fontana Lake isolated the community.

The road was begun even to the point of digging a long tunnel through a mountain near Bryson City. Then work stopped. If in Bryson City, ask directions to the "Road to Nowhere" from which a nice hike into the park begins.