The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook

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Fontana Lake

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      Fontana Lake, located in Swain and Graham counties, is surrounded on the north side by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the remainder of the shoreline by national forest. At 10,230 acres, Fontana Lake is the largest in the Western North Carolina mountains and offers visitors an abundance of recreational opportunities. There are over 39 miles of hiking trails along its shores, and the Appalachian Trail actually passes over the top of Fontana Dam. The hot showers available at the trail shelter maintained by TVA have led grateful hikers to dub it the Fontana Hilton. There are over 238 miles of shoreline, and most of it is protected from development since 90% is owned by the National Park and U.S. Forest Service.
    Fontana Dam, which forms the lake is the highest dam east of the Rockies is a Tennessee Valley Authority project, towers an amazing 480 feet in height and stretches 2,365 feet across the Little Tennessee River. The dam itself is a major tourist attraction, with thousands of visitors each year. The construction of the dam began in 1942 to provide electric power for the war effort and was completed in 1944. The lake is fed by Chambers Creek, Eagle Creek, Forney Creek, Hazel Creek, Lands Creek, Nolands Creek and Pilkeys Creek, and reaches depths of over 440 feet. The Fontana Dam Visitor Center is is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from May through November.
     Tsali Recreational Area, located on the southeastern shore of Fontana Lake, has a well deserved reputation as a great spot of hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and horseback riding. Fontana Village Resort in the Fontana Dam area is a good place to begin your tour of the lake. From there the dam is a short drive, and the village resort complex offers restaurants and resources for more lake information.

Location: Swain and Graham Counties, NC
Distance: From Asheville allow 2 -21/2 hours
Address: Fontana Village Resort, Highway 28 North, Fontana Dam NC 28733
Resources: Tennessee Valley Authority/Lake Hiwassee, 221 Old Ranger Road,
Murphy NC 28906;
                  Nantahala National Forest, Cheoah Ranger District Office, 828-479-6431
Nearby: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, Nantahala National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Directions: (To Fontana Village) take I-40 west. Take the exit for Hwy 74 (Great Smoky Mountain Expressway). Stay on Hwy 74 (four lane) you will pass Clyde, Sylva, and 8 miles past Bryson City (last chance for groceries, restaurants) turn right on Hwy 28. Continue on Hwy 28 for 25 miles.





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