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Canoeing & Kayaking


Nantahala River-Fontana Lake flatwater, Almond, 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: 10 minutes west of Bryson City NC
  • Class: flatwater, with some current near the end
  • Distance Paddled: 8 miles round trip
  • Water: fresh and cold
  • Wildlife: deer, trout

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. About 2/3 of a mile, get off the road on the east side (right shoulder) just before the bridge over the Nantahala. Leave the car near the top as the ramp is unpaved and quite steep.
    At the time this route was published, there were other parks with access paths to the river under construction on the opposite side of the road as well.
    You may also launch at the Almond Boat park whose access road you passed on the east side of the Route 28, though there is a fee for put in.
  • GPS: N 35 deg 22.388' W 083 deg 33.729'
  • Fee: none
  • Description: unpaved ramp (the ugly pump is normally not there)
  • Parking: unpaved, at the top of the ramp beside the road
  • Facilities: none, but numerous nearby

What We Saw

Folks usually think whitewater when they hear Nantahala, but the flatwater portion between Wesser Falls and on Fontana Lake is gorgeous.

The Nantahala here has spent the last of it's whitewater vertical drop at Wesser Falls at the turn around point of this paddle, so this is nice flatwater all the way, with some current on the narrower upper part below Wesser Falls.

The river winds back and forth between lush mountains with a number of small coves where one can rest and enjoy a picnic.

Fishing can be good, though we had no luck during the mid-day trip we took.

You'll know you're getting close to the turnaround point when the river narrows. And finally, you'll see, and probably hear, Wesser Falls in the distance. Wesser is avoided even by the whitewater paddlers. It was formed when a steep dam like structure was blown up into large boulders and rebar. But you'll be downstream in the flatwater, so you won't have to be concerned about going over the falls.

At the end, you also have the option of taking out at a large rock landing (on the right facing upstream) about a couple of hundred yards downstream from Wesser falls. Follow the ramp path from the landing up over the railroad tracks to the back parking lots of the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) Wesser.

Another nice option is to leave the boat at that landing path, eat lunch at any of the NOC eateries overlooking the whitewater takeouts, then return back to the entry point on Fontana Lake. There is a nice outdoor eatery on the same side of the river as the NOC raft parking lot. Or you can cross the river on the foot bridge and to the restaurant also overlooking whitewater paddlers resting in eddies (see below).