View Full Version : Hazel Creek Advice

10-09-2008, 04:32 PM
I am planning a backcountry trip to Hazel Creek for weekend of Oct 24th. Taking the ferry across and have reservations at site 83 for Saturday nite & figured to stay at 84 or 85 on Friday. It has been a few years since Iíve done a backcountry trip and Iíve never been to Hazel Creek. Iím just looking for any pointers on flies to use, food storage, etc. so I can maximize the enjoyment of the experience. I understand there used to be carts to help take your stuff up at the trailhead. I was wondering if this is still true? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thx.

10-09-2008, 07:57 PM
I think you may have that misunderstood. You can bring a cart and use one but I dont think there are any there for you to use.

old tom
10-10-2008, 08:30 AM
Haven't been in several years, but under the prevous owner of the marina, you could rent carts from them. Never done it so I don't know the price. But there are none at the trailhead.

IMHO, site 84 is much nicer than 85. 85 is right on the trail. But if you can get a reservation at 83 for both nights, I'd do it. I'd rather fish than spend time breaking down and setting up camp.

All Park Service sites now have a cable hanging system for your food. Use them. If you use them to hang your pack too, hang your food separately. Mice are as big, if not a bigger problem than bears as far as food is concerned. They have no qualms about chewing thru a $200 pack to get at a bagle. I've heard of food bags that are reinforced with a wire mesh of some type - but I've never seen one. Might check around at your local backpacking store.

Keep a watch on Byron's fishing report for flys - he's usually right on.

10-10-2008, 09:17 AM
This is my two cents on the mice. This is a proven method, I have used in camping, and my previous job working at remote cell towers. Double bag everthing in vacum seal bags (bought at Wal-Mart or anywhere) the big kind you can reuse and seal with a vacum cleaner. Then line the outer bag with moth ball crystel sacks (also at Walley World) these are small sacks (1inX2in) and they do not dissolve like moth balls (as fast). If you do not use vacum bags your food will have a bit of a moth ball taste, it is better with the vacum bags. Mice and snakes hate the smell, and the vacum bags last forever if you take care of them. Give it a try.
For your expensive cork buys some of those womens hair bands (the things like rubber bands but not rubber bands because mice chew rubber bands and rubber bands dry rot) and some metal screen (door screen) and wrap your rod with one moth crystel sac in the screen and secure it with the bands. Mice love your cork. You can also place a few sacks inside your tent at night (at the openings and coners) this should keep them out. If you are worried about the storng smell yourself, you can buy lavander sented sacks they work but not as good so i would use them in the tent and the strong ones for my food and pack.
If the mice are as bad as I have read, these cheap tricks will work. Nothing is perfect but this has been the only thing I could find to protect my stuff in the past and it has protected some expensive electronic equipment.
Again just my 2cents

10-10-2008, 04:46 PM
Thanks to all of you. Not that we're planning on bringing the kitchen sink I had just heard that about the carts. And I have had the problems with the mice on past trips so appreciate the ideas on how to keep food from them. We have reservations at 83 for Saturday nite, but there were only 2 spots for Friday (3 of us) so we will have to move on Saturday. I'd rather not move, but it sure beats sitting at my computer working! Thanks again.

10-13-2008, 07:00 PM
We use these and don't have any problems:


10-14-2008, 10:44 AM
We use these and don't have any problems:


Yeah I use the same for a few years now. Even folks with the Ursacks get chewed into and robbed. I haven't had a single issue with this thing in two years. I did have a mouse climb up on my shoulder around the campfire, but that is unrelated. Those things have hearts of lions.

old tom
10-14-2008, 12:05 PM
Thanks for the link and endorsement on the ratsack. That sounds like what I heard about. Gonna get me one of them.

10-23-2008, 03:24 PM
Sorry this is late, have not been on the site for a while. Hazel Ck is magic. #14-#16 stimies in yellow and orange usually all I use this late in the year. Others swear by yellow humpy, and while they probably would not hit a hopper, using one as an indicator w/ BHPT Prince or CJ should work. Lots of flies, rhodadenderon eats them. 6 or 7 tippet. Tight fishing further up; chance for Smokey Slam on Cold Spring. Too late now, but Cabela's has a game cart that we have used and works well. Can get abt 100# in each of two (2) tupper ware 55 gal boxes, and strap on each half of cart. Helps to have removable handle of big thick dowel inside alum pipe, attach with U clamps so it hangs out over each side of handle and both can push cart. Usually try to get as far up as Bone Valley; last of trail to there is not old RR bed like to Sugar, but is well worth the extra 3/4 mile or so. Skip Watson

10-29-2008, 11:46 AM
Thanks for all the great information. Unfortunately, we ended up changing plans and camping at Elkmont. I was pretty disappointed as I've always wanted to do the Hazel creek trip, but it looks like it will have to wait til Apirl. Thx again.

12-19-2008, 01:55 PM
From your handle it looks like you may be from LEX, KY, as am I. Too bad abt not getting to Hazel this year; but it does raise possibilities for 2009. I have never been there in the Spring or Summer, just not too fond of insects since I spent a year in the jungle in a country that no longer exists and never got used to bug juice. Fall trips have been in SEP or early OCT, but of course depend on water levels. Due to the effort to get there, I would not go for less than: drive down TUE evening; take party boat WED; fish THU, FRI, SAT; come out SUN. BG Chapter TU has tried to put one of these together, and may have made it, I just never got to go. Do not give up on this trip; will be one of the best in GSMNP.
Skip Watson

01-09-2009, 01:09 PM
thanks for the info. I am from & in Lexington and in the past have been to some of the BGTU outings years ago but not to GSMNP. I haven't given up on the Hazel trip, just putting it off. I may try the spring, but fall is more likely. I'll post about it here again when it is time to go.

01-20-2009, 10:35 PM
You should definitely come back and do Hazel in the spring. Late April or early May is golden up there. Look for rows of jonquils blooming where houses used to stand and when you are fishing a big pool all by yourself, listen for the "voices on the wind" Harry Middleton talked about. My father fished Hazel in the 50's and 60's and swore he heard voices on Hazel; and that was long before Harry's book ever came out.
I've never heard voices, but I did run into a group of smokin' hot backpacking chicks coming off the 20 mile trail once. I guess that's unrelated, but man-o-man, I just had to mention it.

01-21-2009, 12:41 PM
Can some one tell me where hazel creek is? I know I have had to see it and I have read about it in several books on the smokies but darn I can not seem to figure it out. Is it boat access only?

old tom
01-21-2009, 02:04 PM
Hazel is located on the north shore of Fontana Lake. There are three ways to get there:

A 10 mile hike from Fontana Dam or a 20 mile hike from Bryson City. That gets you to the southern end of the trailhead. Or a 4 mile hike from Clingman's Dome to the northern trailhead. From there it's about another 3 miles to water.

A $50 per person (round trip) boat ride from Fontana Marina - located close to the dam.

A 2 mile paddle from Cable Cove off Hwy 28. Or if you have your own boat, you can launch it at Cable Cove or the Fontana Marina.

01-21-2009, 03:24 PM
Thanks for the information. I guess I have never been there but it does sound nice.

old tom
01-21-2009, 05:40 PM
I think Hazel Creek is deemed by many to be the Mecca of Smoky Mountain flyfishing. There's a lot of history in the area. As Mark_Cathey (any relation the THE Mark Cathey?) said, you can at least figurativly hear the "voices on the wind".

Arguably, the fishing may not be any better than other streams in the Park. It's takes a serious effort to get there. And weekend crowds in the spring and fall can number in excess of 50. But I think any serious Southeastern flyfisherman should make at least one pilgrimage.

01-21-2009, 05:49 PM
Man you guys should be salesmans or are you. I am definately going to have to put this one on the list to do. I am interested in the vices in the wind as much as I am the fishing. I may need to post when I can come and see if anyone else would like to tag along.

01-21-2009, 07:00 PM
Hey Old Tom. No, no blood relation, although he is my namesake. My father received a signed copy of Jim Gasque's book, "Hunting and Fishing in the Great Smokies" from his widow (with a little help from Carson Brewer here in Knoxville) in the early 60's. It quickly became his favorite book, particularly the chapters about Mark Cathey, and so when I came along, he named me after him. My dad gave me the book, along with a letter about becoming a man, on my 18th birthday and it's now my most prized possession. I notice you're from Bryson City. Did you ever know him? We met a lady working at the Pizza Hut there a couple years back whose father knew him really well. She'd grown up out on "Paint'r Creek", which is also where we happened to be camping that night. It was very cool.

old tom
01-21-2009, 08:37 PM
Careful there young Mark. I'm Old but I ain't that old.:smile: No I didn't know him. Mr Cathey died in 1944, sitting in the woods under an oak tree, hunting rifle in his lap, his Plott Hound by his side. An apparent heart attack. Not a bad way to go out when your time comes.

I look forward to reading Gasque's book. It has recently been reprinted and I gave my son a copy of it for Christmas this year.

01-21-2009, 08:40 PM
You guys have me now interested in this book. Is this a book that is found at LRO or where do you get a copy of it?

01-21-2009, 09:12 PM
It's a book that was out of print for about 40 years but it's my understanding that just this past year, Chapel Hill Press or one of those vintage publishers picked it back up again. It's a great "old school" book and describes the days when there were hunting and fishing lodges throughout what's now the park. Definitely something cool to have if you are at all interested in the sporting traditions of the area.

Sorry, Old Tom. I missed your last post until just now. I actually meant to ask if you knew anyone who knew him. My bad.

But yeah, that's the way I want to go, too......

By the way, there's a recording of his peculiar way of talking that was recorded for one of those Appalachian dialect preservation projects back in the 30's. The link is here- (wish I'd found it before my dad passed away) Just click the play button-


01-22-2009, 05:31 PM
I did find some copies of this book out there still and I might just try and snatch one up. It sounds like it would be a good read. My wife loves the history books of the cades cove area and I believe she would like this one to. Thanks for the information on it.

01-23-2009, 11:53 AM
Hey Lexfly, a few of us from BGTU go to Hazel every May, usually the first or second weekend. You are more than welcome to join us. Jim Eggum Stonehedgegg@aol.com

01-28-2009, 03:57 PM
Looking for info about Hazel Creek area and advice on how to fish the stream(s) in the area. Will be hiking to #83 from the east along Bear Creek and Cold Spring, and then down Hazel Creek to the lake (and then back to the east along the Lakeshore Trail). While this will be primarily a hiking/camping trip, we want to fish the creeks along the way. I am a trout fishing virgin and am looking for whatever info I can get to make it as good a trip as possible for me and the daughter before she goes off to college. Thanks, Jim JThomLawyer@aol.com

01-28-2009, 04:14 PM
Hi Jim.

Just speaking for myself, but I think the route you and your daughter are hiking is a beautiful one. You will have an incredible time, regardless of whether you catch fish. That said, fishing on Hazel is like anywhere else in the park; the trout are spooky and you have to approach the stream carefully and from behind. If you aren't fly fishing, which I'm assuming, make sure you have a single hook (and really, since its Hazel, why don't you just go ahead and mash the barb down too?).
A lite little Mepps or PM spinner in a nice fast run or pulled through a deep hole (there's plenty of those farther down toward the lake) will probably do you right. Just remember- no bait! I mean, even if it weren't against the law, who the **** wants their kids to grow up knowing their dad is a bait fisherman?

Have fun! Watch for bears at 83. Just sayin......

old tom
01-28-2009, 06:33 PM
I'll add that #83 is not the prettiest campsite on Hazel, but it's is a great choice for fishing. You're right where Bone Valley feeds into Hazel. My advice would be to set up camp, grab your fishing gear and head up the Bone Valley trail. It's an easy mile to the end of the trail. You can fish a few holes along the way and at the end of the trail you'll find the Hall-Kresse cabin - which just happens to be the cabin in my avitar. Back at the campsite, be sure to visit the old cemetary on the Northwest side the Hazel Creek trail - just follow the unmarked trail up the hill.

It's an easy hike on down to the mouth of Hazel and the trail is right on the stream for the next 5 miles. Fish anywhere that looks interesting. At the end. spend some time just looking around when you get to the old Calhoun house and the old structures left behind from the lumbering days. Sit down on the front steps of the house and try to imagine what life was like there 80 - 90 years ago.

Late March can be iffy for fishing. The water temps will most likely still be below the magical 50 degree mark. Meaning the fish won't be feeding aggressively. Whether you're fly or spinner fishing, use something that will get your fly/lure down close to the bottom.

01-28-2009, 10:44 PM
I agree with everything Old Tom says about Bone Valley and the river in general; and just to add one more thing- the Proctor Cemetery is on up the "road" about a half mile beyond the old Calhoun place (going downstream) and is a really peaceful place to sit and relax and maybe (if you're by yourself and prone to such things) talk to the folks that used to live in the area after a day on the river. I love that spot- just had to mention it.

02-15-2009, 02:55 PM
If you were to do the impossible and ignore the fishing aspects of the decision, which would be the nicer campsite to stay at for one night, 83 or 84? We will be hiking in from the east (site 75). Other than the fact that 83 is at the meeting point of Hazel and Bone Valley, is there anything about one or the other that grades one out at and "A" and the other at an "A-" ? And I am betting that someone is going to tell me to stay at neither and to instead turn north at the Hazel and go the extra mile up to 82. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and advice. Thanks, Jim

old tom
02-15-2009, 04:11 PM
Fishing convenience aside, 84 wins hands down. Away from the trail, all flat, under a canopy of trees, sites by either Hazel or Sugarfork Creek (fishable too), water source 100 yds back down the trail (I hate pumping water), no horses. One of my hiking books calls it one of the nicest sites in the Park.

03-26-2009, 11:19 PM
Thanks to everyone for the advice and info. Starting hike on Sunday a.m. and staying at 75 and then at 84. Hope to post a story or two late next week, along with a photo of my (and my daughter's) first trout.

03-27-2009, 11:46 AM
That sounds like a great trip. Be sure to check out High Rocks and please post a link to your pics, I would love to see them.

old tom
03-27-2009, 08:42 PM
Had over an inch of rain in the past few days, and more to come. Be sure you have some streamers in your fly box. Water will still be high and might be a little off color. And it should go without saying - be careful.

03-28-2009, 12:11 AM
Also I forgot to mention that the bridge at Proctor (CS#86; that goes over Hazel Creek) has washed out so please take that into consideration.

03-28-2009, 06:43 AM
Well, we'll have to cross that nonexistant bridge when we get to it. Thanks for the info. I'll get to that spot on tuesday, so, with my luck on the timing of our trip, there's plenty of time for 2-3 inches more of rain between now and then. Leaving in a couple of hours. Thanks to all who have provided advice and info. I'll make sure and post something when we return.

Jim (and Courtney)

04-03-2009, 12:23 PM
Welcome Friends,

I do not have a pic of a first trout, but it was quite and experience. The first point that should be kept in mind is that if you want to fish the Hazel, attack it from the south and do not plan a trip that brings you in after a two day trip from the east. From the intersection of Bear Creek Trail and Forney Creek Trail, up over High Rocks and down Cold Spring Gap Trail, is a constant and steady uphill to High Rocks and a long and difficult, ankle and knee breaking downhill to the Hazel. One of the toughest days that I have done. The pre-trip rain made the trails challenging, especially when the trails became small streams or bog-like mud. The pics are on my daughter's camera and I do not have them to post here, but the Forney and Hazel were up and roaring. The thigh/belt-deep crossing of the Hazel just before getting to #83 was downright scary. One of those things that when you get done you think, "OMG, what did I just do?" So, due to the hiking delays, the trip became a sole hike/camp trip and did not involve fishing. Now the good parts: the area is beautiful, we saw only three people the entire time, had a doe run accross the trail, daughter walked right over a little (harmless) snake, the food was good and the stars are out by the billions (on one night), there was still ice/snow up at High Rocks, and it was a trip that will be looked back on with smiles (once our muscles loosen up again). Thanks to those who provided info to us before the trip. Now that I have seen the Hazel, I really look forward to going back.