Deep in the soul of the southern Appalachians lies the land of the Cherokee, the land where gold was first discovered in the United States, the land were moonshiners battled the revenuers, and a land where the people are as rugged and beautiful as the mountains they call home.
Paddling this wilderness our small group will explore the many brooks, rivers, and creeks that flow into the Fontana. Taking time to stretch our legs we will explore the hillsides in search of abandoned farms, pioneer graveyards, wildlife, and the perfect vista.
Day 1 — We will meet at 1:00 pm at the Fontana village marina and boat ramp, just east of the dam on Highway 28. After introductions we will go over the week’s itinerary and learn the basics of packing and paddling a kayak. Our first nights camp is only 2-3 hours of paddling away depending on the number of times we stop to swim.
Day 2 — After a wonderful breakfast, we will take some time paddling Eagle Creek and explore an area known as Proctor. Last year we found remains of an old copper mine just a few feet under water.
Day 3 — Great day paddling to Hazel Creek. What’s wilderness now used to be a boom town. We will walk through the woods in search of what remains of the town. A picnic lunch and a swim at the waterfall will highlight our day.
Day 4 — Probably our longest and most action packed day. We pack up and get an early start, traveling 75 miles to the Suwannee Canal Recreation Area on the east side of Okefenokee. We will pass the “Trail Ridge” on the drive over and paddle remnants of the Suwannee Canal. We will also stop at the visitor center, an old homestead, and do a short hike to an observation tower where the view is incredible. We will stop off for a group dinner (not included in trip price) on our way to Crooked River, a short 45 minute drive away, where we then settle into our new cabins.
Day 5 — Paddle back to our put-in point. But we are not saying good bye; we will then take the short drive to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, have lunch at the Rivers End cafe, then saddle up and raft some wonderful Class 3-4 whitewater! Bring the waterproof camera.
Level of Difficulty
This trip is geared for all levels of paddlers. Instruction will be given prior to paddling each day. Participants should be in good physical condition and at least twelve years of age. We will paddle between 6-8 miles per day. This translates into two to four hours on the water. When the group is not paddling there will be optional hikes, swims, and side paddling trips. Participants wanting to just hang out and relax in camp are encouraged to do so.
Meals and Accommodations
The leader will prepare all meal. Meals included in the trip fee begin with dinner on the first day and lunch on the last day. Meals served on the trip will try to honor and reflect local cuisine. The guides refuse to cook “freeze dried” or “prepared” type foods.
Accommodations will be backcountry camping. This means swimming to stay clean and cat holes when nature calls. There are showers and flush toilets at the put-in and take-out.