Trails: Lakeshore Trail | Hazel Creek Trail | Bone Valley Trail
Type: Out & Back
Surface: Old Forest Roads
Distance: 15.4 miles
Time: 8 hours
Difficulty: Easy (you will cross the creek several times)
Foot Traffic: Not Crowded
Restrooms: Fontana Village Resort Marina (backcountry regulations)
Highlights: Boat Ride, Creek Crossings, Historic Buildings, Camping, Cascades
Lakeshore Trail | Hazel Creek Trail | Bone Valley Trail Background
Just like other farming communities of the Smoky Mountains in the early 1800’s, Hazel Creek was a beautiful place to settle down and begin a new life in a young country. Moses Proctor and his wife, Patience Rustin Proctor, were the first to settle here. The town of Proctor would grow until it reached a population of more than 1,000 in the 1920’s.
After the Civil War, railroads and logging invaded the entire Smoky Mountain region. Hazel Creek residents agreed to sell their logging rights, and over-logging devastated the valley, as it did two-thirds of the Smokies.
By the time World War II arrived, the Tennessee Valley Authority needed energy that a new dam could provide. Fontana Dam was completed in 1944, but only after the final local residents were forced out.
The logging town of Proctor, and many other communities in the valley, had to be abandoned due to the flooding the dam would cause. In addition, the road leading to these communities would be cut off, leaving residents stranded.
The Granville Calhoun House remains, as well as Hall Cabin. Both are open for self-guided tours. Hall Cabin is the remotest home in all Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Lakeshore Trail | Hazel Creek Trail | Bone Valley Trail Trailhead
The easiest way to get to the Lakeshore Trail, Hazel Creek Trail, Bone Valley Trail trailhead is to drive to Fontana Village Resort Marina and take the boat shuttle. You can top off your water supply and use the restroom before boarding for the short trip across Fontana Lake. I could live on a boat, so there is no other choice in my opinion.
The fee for the boat shuttle varies depending on the number of people on the boat. As of publication date, tickets are $25 each way for three or more passengers. Tickets are $35 each way for a single or two passengers.
Prices are per passenger. Please check with the marina website for up-to-date information on prices and other details.
Alternatively, you may hike around the lake using Lakeshore Trail. The trailhead is located at the end of Lakeshore Drive W, on the western side of Fontana Dam. This option will add a day to your trip. Expect to overnight at one of the backcountry shelters.
IMPORTANT: Call Fontana Marina to make a reservation for the boat shuttle. The number is 828-498-2129. If you plan to stay overnight in a backcountry shelter, you need a permit. You can purchase it at the marina. Camping is allowed only at designated campgrounds and shelters. If you are unsure of anything, just ask. The personnel are very helpful.
Just as you would on any all-day hike, start early; you need the time. The boat will drop you off on the northern shore of Fontana Lake and the skipper will point you in the direction of the trailhead. Meet back at the appointed time for the trip back.
Lakeshore Trail | Hazel Creek Trail | Bone Valley Trail Description
This trail is not a traditional mountain trail of packed dirt embedded with roots and gravel; rather, it is an old mountain road. Most hiking guides rate this trail as an “easy” hike (as do we). You cross the creek several times on your way to Hall Cabin, near the end of Bone Valley Trail.
Crossing the creek can be tricky, especially when the water is high and moving quickly. Take care when traversing any water.
Campsite 86 is less than a half mile from the trailhead and sits next to Hazel Creek on the left. After passing the campsite and crossing a bridge over the creek, the trail intersects with Hazel Creek Trail. This area is the location of the old logging town of Proctor.
Turning right onto Hazel Creek Trail you will hike for nearly 5.5 miles until you reach the junction with Bone Valley Trail. Turn left on Bone Valley Trail and hike another 1.8 miles to Hall Cabin.
Bone Valley Trail is named after the area where a herd of cattle froze to death while grazing when a local farmer miscalculated incoming freezing temperatures.
The hike back to the trailhead and the shore of Fontana Lake is approximately 7.7 miles.
Nearby Points of Interest
Fontana Dam Visitor Center is just up the road from the Fontana Village Resort Marina. The Fontana Dam Shelter sits between the two. If you are a motorcyclist, you may want to experience the Tail of the Dragon on US-129 on the other side of Fontana Dam.