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 around western North Carolina. Taking time to stretch our legs we will explore the hillsides in search of abandoned farms, pioneer graveyards, wildlife, and the perfect vista.
For 25 years I have been leading a wilderness camping/kayaking tour of Lake Fontana and the southern wilds of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Before and after these tours I spend a few days and up to a week playing around and exploring the area in search of hidden gems.
Well next year I am doing things a little bit differently. I will be setting up a base camp at the very small and remote "Cable Cove Campground.. From here our group will load up each morning and go to those "hidden gems" I've found over the years. Most will be easy paddles like the Little Tennessee, Tuckasegee, Nantahala, and of course beautiful Lake Fontana. Non paddling events might include touring the dam, hike Joyce Kilmer forest, and hit a brewery in Bryson City.
Sunday - Meet at Cable Cove Campground at noon. Meet and greet, then set up base camp. Around 3pm we will go out for our first paddle on the Lake. Greg we help out any newer paddlers with basic kayak instruction. Our group will return around 5:30pm for happy hour and dinner.
Monday - 7am coffee, 8am breakfast, 9am leave out for our first big day of paddling. Today we will be making a 10 mile round trip paddle to Eagle trip. Upon reaching Eagle creek we will have a picnic lunch, swim in the cool creek, then have the opportunity to hike a few easy miles. We will return to camp around 4pm. 6pm will be happy hour followed by dinner.
Tuesday - 7am coffee, 8am breakfast, 9am depart for Franklin and the Little Tennessee River. A little bit of a drive and some time to set up a shuttle, but what a reward! 14 miles of nice easy class 1 rapids (shoals). We will float this river taking lots of time to swim in the holes and shoals, practicing shooting rapids, and playing on the monkey bridge. Lunch will be a riverside picnic. We should arrive back to our basecamp near 5-6pm. Dinner and happy hour soon afterwards.
Wednesday - 7am coffee, 8am breakfast, 9am depart for the Nantahala River. This bouncy, easy, cold, class 3 whitewater is a joy to paddle. We will rent 5-6 person rafts and head down as a group. Lunch will be a riverside picnic. On the drive back to basecamp we can make a short detour to Joyce Kilmer memorial forest and hike into the giant virgin popular trees. We will return to camp by 6pm where dinner will be served!
Thursday - 7am coffee, 8am breakfast, 9am depart to Hazel Creek via Lake Fontana. This is about an 8 mile round trip paddle. We will paddle as far up Hazel Creek as possible then hike to my favorite waterfall and swimming hole. Only brave souls jump in without checking the water temperature first. Think recently melted glacier water, seriously! We will take time to explore the old homesteads, sawmills, and farm equipment left behind in the ghost town of Proctor. We will return to happy hour, dinner, and camp by 5pm.
Friday - 7am coffee, 8am breakfast, 9am departure to the little town of Needmore to paddle the lower section of the little Tennessee River. Today lots of little shoals make up the river as we pass homesteads, farmlands, mountains, and the Nantahala National Forest. We will also pass fish damns that were made thousands of years ago by the Cherokee people. Lots of time will spent swimming, fossil hunting, and just floating this amazing stretch of river. If we have time at the end of the day we will drive to the base of Fontana Dam for an intense swim in fast moving water. Dinner will be at the cafe located at the Fontana Resort. Everyone is responsible for their own meal.
Saturday - 7am coffee, 8am breakfast, 9am rivertime!Folks wanting another day of paddling can stick around and paddle the lake or join me on the Tuckasegee river. This is a class 2+ river meant for experience paddlers that are comfortable upside down, backwards, and hauling butt downstream. Rafts can be rented, however, Greg will be kayaking. After lunch we will say our goodbyes.We will have my 15 passenger Van and kayak trailer to get around to all our paddling locations, however, we will need to use other folks cars to set up shuttles. Part of signing up is being willing to help with shuttles, cooking, cleaning, and adding to the "group".
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.