The view from OJG’s cabin back porch is heavenly. To the left you’re looking over towards the NOC at Cheoah Bald…
To the right you’re looking at the Appalachian Trail ridge line spanning from Rocky Top/Thunderhead all the way to Clingmans.
It doesn’t really matter if my eyes close on the couch, recliner, bunk, or a sleeping pad. Closing my eyes at OJG’s cabin almost always means opening them to a mountain adventure the next day. This weekend was no different.
Although me, Hump, Matty Fierce and OJG run a good bit together, it had been over 2 years since ALL 4 of us had an adventure in the Smokies!
At a lil past 7am we all piled into MF’s car, grabbed some Bojangles in Bryson City and made our way out to the Tunnel to Nowhere. OJG had booked a shuttle through Bryson City Outdoors to pick us up at the Tunnel to Nowhere and drop us off at Fontana Dam.
After an hour or so ride, AJ dropped us off at Fontana Dam and we took the first steps of the 35 miles back to the car.
Typically, I lean more towards the higher regions of the park because I love being up on the ridges. That being said, if you’re looking for great vistas and views… Lakeshore is NOT for you. The trail never gets over an altitude of 2400ft so most of the day was spent on low grounds, hopping small streams, crossing bridges and winding in and out of views of the lake.
The Lakeshore Trail was attractive for a few reasons: 1) the point to point tickled my purist side 2) it’s one of the most isolated parts of the park and 3) Proctor.
Honestly, if the traverse wasn’t on the Smoky Mtn bucket list… I would have just ran the 10 or so miles from Fontana to Proctor, turned my ass around and ran back to my car. Regardless… Smoky Mtn running is always a rad time!
The first 10 miles or so to Proctor ticked off quickly. The trail wasn’t all that technical and was mostly comprised of rolling hills. I mean, we still got 6000ft of gain on the day so there was some climbing, but there wasn’t any extended climbs.
The allure of colbeer and finishing before dark kept our visit of the flooded historic village brief, but Proctor is such a fascinating area. We took a few minutes to explore the Calhoun House before reconnecting with the trail.
We’re already in the early stages of planning another adventure that will give us ample opportunity to explore all Proctor has to offer without having to link a 35 mile run with it! If ya want to read a lil more about Proctor and it’s history, “The Ghost Towns of Hazel Creek” is a really good read!
The last 25 miles were… meh. The trail really didn’t offer much to the imagination. Sure, there were nice sections of the trail with some good views of the lake…
And I took a short, solo detour up to Fairview Cemetery…
But mostly… it was just bland, woodys, leaf covered single track that often had us running on an annoying camber. By mile 30 everyone in our party was real ready to be done. One positive for the Lakeshore Trail is that water was plentiful and made filtering easy.
The tunnel at mile 35 was a welcomed sight!
Though the Lakeshore Trail won’t go down as my favorite Smoky Mtn trail or even one that I’d want to do again, I am thankful to have gotten to spend a lighthearted day with my boys in my most favorite place.