View Full Version : Hazel Creek

01-24-2008, 03:22 PM
I am giving serious thought to Hazel Creek this Spring (probably in May).
I am wondering just how much traffic does this creek get. I am especially interested in campsite #83, which I know requires a reservation but I don't know how many can really camp there. Where is most of the fishing pressure on this stream? I would think the middle section between campsite #84 and #82 would get most of the pressure (I don't know that that is officially the middle section that is just what I am calling it). I know that I want to spend at least one full day (maybe more) exploring Bone Valley.
Also, and I know that this may sound nuts to some people, but I will probably hike in. I have done quiet a bit of hiking from the tunnel at the end of "the road to nowhere". This is about a 15 mile hike, has anyone personally made this trip. I have never hiked the entire length, but I have done the first 9-10 miles to the top of Bear Creek Trail on another backpacking trip but that was a long time ago and I don't really remember the terrain. I know that Bear Creek Trail makes a pretty significant elevation gain. Looking at the map it might be easier (or at least shorter) to come in from Fontana Dam. Has anyone tried this, I've hiked to Eagle Creek but no further.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Especially if you have ever hiked in.
Also, which campsites have you stayed at #84, #83, #82; and how did you like that site? I will probably make it a Monday - Friday trip the 1st, 2nd or 3rd week of May.

01-24-2008, 03:30 PM

I and a buddy of mine have thought about this trip also, but taking the shuttle from the marina. We were looking at second week in May. I'm curious what everyone has to say about this also?

01-24-2008, 05:18 PM
The last of May is an incredible time to fish Hazel, and I highly reccomend using an inchworm pattern. You can fish it wet or dry.

01-24-2008, 05:52 PM
Me and a buddy paddled from cable cove boat ramp and hiked up to 84. We stay for 6 days and fished from about 1.5 miles below 84 to a little above 82. also hit some of the feeders. This trip was in june of 06 and the creek was blown out by the rain and it rained on us for all but the last half day. Still a fantastic trip. My friend has hiked in the route your talking about a few times so i'll ask him about it and post any usefull info.

01-24-2008, 06:17 PM
Hiked it and have taken the "Chester Express" to the mouth as well. To me, the hike eats up a lot of good fishing time and it's harder to justify larger items in my pack like deer tenderloin etc. If you're serious about the fishing take the charter and take whatever you need to "really" enjoy the trip. An extra rod can make or break a trip (no pun intended), good food and sufficient bedding etc. can also make the nights easier.

In my experience the crowds naturally thin out the farther you go back up the trail. We like to camp at the split and fish up and down. Very few folks and good water!

old tom
01-25-2008, 05:05 PM
I hiked the length of the Lakeshore Trail 6 -7 years ago. My son and I hiked in from the tunnel to Forney Creek the first day and fished it that evening and the next morning. He headed back out and I continued on. I was only doing 6 to 8 miles a day and fishing here and there in the evenings along the way. This was before they cut the new trail from Hazel to Eagle. The old route took you up Hazel to 84, then across Jenkins Ridge to Eagle. That was my first of several trips to Hazel. As well as I recall, it took me about 3 days to get to 84. Some of the trail was flat along the lakeshore, but there seemed to be endless trips up and down little finger ridges. I'm sure it could be done in a day, but it would be one tough day. The trip from the dam to 84 could be made much easier in one day, especially now that you don't have to go over Jenkins Ridge.

I think the question is going to come down to how much money do you have to spend and would you rather hike or fish. To take the shuttle over from the dam will cost you $50 a head but save you 3/4 of a day hiking. If you're determined to hike it, come in from the dam.

Site 84 is about 4 miles up the trail. The hike is on an old road bed and probably has no more than 500 feet of elevation gain. It just might be one of the nicest camp sites in the Park. 83 is about a mile further, not as pretty, also a horse camp, but there are several nice tent sites over a small ridge, away from where the horses stay. If you're doing a Monday - Friday trip, that will really decrease your chance of sharing the site with horses. I've never stayed at 82, but it's also a pretty site. 84 and 83 have a spring fed water source - 82 has only the creek for a water source. (I hate pumping water.) The hike from 83 to 82 is about 3 miles, but it's not an easy 3.

My personal preference is 83. It's an easier hike with a good water source. You can day trip on up to 82 and beyond much easier than lugging a full back pack up there. Sounds like you've done your homework in wanting to spend a day on Bone Valley. It's only a mile up the trail to the Hall Cabin (see my avitar), but don't be afraid to bushwack your way further up the creek.

From what I've seen, the most pressure is from the mouth up to 85. Like highpockets said, the further up you go, the fewer people you will see. We also try to do our trips there during the week to avoid the crowds. One year we saw at least 20 to 30 folks at 86 on a guided trip out of Charlotte and another 10 or 15 at 85. That was on a Friday and thank goodness, we were on our way out.

Lastly, I'd say the later in May, the better. I say this because I usually wade wet so I don't have to haul waders in. The water will be a little chilly first thing in the morning, but you'll get used to it soon. Avoid the Memorial Day weekend.


01-25-2008, 11:13 PM
Thanks for the information. Keep it coming. Tom, I appreciate the details. It's not about the money or the time with the ferry, I really want to hike in, that is a part of the joy of the trip for me. Any more specific details would be greatly appreciated especially about the specific campsites (#82, #83, #84). I definitely don't want to be there on Memorial Day weekend, but I am thinking seriously about that week that ends on the Friday before Memorial Day (hoping that I will be hiking out as others are coming in). My daughter's school schedule may cause me to choose another week. Again, I really appreciate the information. I spent several hours on the road today with my fishing partner and we spent quiet a bit of time talking about this possible trip.

01-25-2008, 11:14 PM
D$#N is it $50 a head now? Ok, forget what I said, HIKE IN!

old tom
01-26-2008, 10:32 AM
$50 a head is what I hear the going rate was last season. It might be more now. I understand one of the sons of the founders of Phillips and Jordan Construction Co. in Robbinsville bought the Fontana Resort, including the marina. They've done a lot of upgrades, so I guess they are trying to make it pay off. I thought the old rate structure was fair... $45 for the first person in the party and $5 for each additional person. It takes no more manpower and gas to take 4 people over than it takes to ferry 1. Sounds like this is really not something they want to do, but if someone is willing to pay the price, they'll do it.


84 (Sugar Fork) is nicely placed off the trail. Very shaded with 4 or 5 different tent sites, none too close to the others, all flat and a nice cooking area in the middle. Sugar Fork Creek runs into Hazel on one side of the site. If you stay here, Sugar Fork provides a nice small stream fishing opportunity after dinner. The water source is right on the trail, about 100 yds or so before you get to the campsite. A spring comes out of the bank on your right with a PVC pipe extending out to fill your water bottles.

83 (Bone Valley) is a large site, to accomodate horses. The site is shaded around the fringes and open in the middle where the horses are parked. Bone Valley Creek comes in on the upper side of the site and, for my money, it provides the best tent sites. A small knoll separates these sites from the horses. If there are any there, you might hear them, but you won't see them. Also, the horse campers tend to camp closer to their stock and may tend to party a little more. (Staying up more than an hour after sundown is my idea of a party when backpacking.) It's definitely not as pretty a site as 84, but provides ready access to fishing Bone Valley Creek as well as the upper reaches of Hazel. The water source is on the left side of the trail just before where Bone Valley crosses the trail. It's slightly off the trail, but well worn and you can't miss it.

82 (Calhoun) is a very nice looking site, although I've never actually stood on it. It's can be seen from the trail, but way down a hill. Looks as though it has room for 4 or 5 tents, all level and well shaded.


01-26-2008, 02:30 PM
That's what I remember was about $50 for the boat load of us!

Someone needed to buy that place; whoever had it last was spending just enough money to keep the heat on!

Man I cannot wait for spring! AHHHHHH

01-26-2008, 07:50 PM
Tom, Thanks for all of the outstanding information about Hazel Creek!

Does anyone know how much the marina charges for canoe and kayak rentals? It may be a better option if you want to do a short trip (overnight) and are going with one other person (assuming that the rental rate isn't too ridiculous...)

Has anyone paddled across Fontana to Hazel Creek? How long of a trip was it time-wise? Its looks to be about 5 miles. Eagle Creek looks like 3.75 mile and may be a better option for paddling, for an overnight trip.

01-26-2008, 10:05 PM
Tom, I'm with Pete, thanks for the great information, especially on the campsites. When you've never been there it's tough to decide where to stay.

I don't know anything about the lake or the marina so maybe someone else can help with that. Thanks for all the information guys, now I just have to see if I can make it happen.

old tom
01-27-2008, 03:28 PM
Here's the link to the marina. http://www.fontanavillage.com/marina/marina.htm Looks like you'll have to call them to get current pricing info. My recollection is that it was about a 20 minute ride for 2 + the driver in a bowrider... probably about a 90 hp engine running full bore. Don't think that's something I'd want to paddle.

I recall a post on the SEFFF several years ago about someone who had paddled it from Cable Cove. (http://www.southeastflyfishingforum.com/forum/) You might do a search on that site and see if you can find it.

01-27-2008, 08:38 PM

when i paddled from cable cove it took a little better tan 1.5 hours. we didnt feel the need to bust it right of the bat. the paddle out took about twice the time due to gale force winds coming across the lake. If the weather cooperates paddling is the way to go, beutiful scenery and no urgency to get off the ferry.

Younger Tom
02-01-2008, 12:55 PM
82 (Calhoun) is a very nice looking site, although I've never actually stood on it. It's can be seen from the trail, but way down a hill. Looks as though it has room for 4 or 5 tents, all level and well shaded.


What? We left our day packs in the campsite when we we fished way upstream in 2004. Yer memory's not so hot anymore, Pop. ;)

To add to what old tom said, Sugar Fork is one of the nicest campsites I think I've used in the park. Here it is in 2004:

Hazel is running by off to the left/background in this picture. Sugar Fork is off to the right and you camp in a little wedge just upstream of the confluence, if I remember correctly. Here's the water supply. Same sort of thing up at Bone Valley.

Bone Valley CG is nice and the creek is much larger than Sugar Fork. After a thunderstorm:

Bone Valley CG. The creek is just on the other side of the tent and flows down a short ways into Hazel. The campground is a lot more open than Sugar Fork, probably due to the increased popularity.

But if you're going to hike in, why not man it up and come in from Clingman's Dome? I prefer fishing up above Calhoun anyway.

02-02-2008, 05:20 AM
If you ride the ferry in, How far is it to the first campsite from the ferry ride and what campsite is it?

Paula Begley
02-02-2008, 07:44 AM

The first campsite is at Proctor, I believe it is #86. It's half a mile or less from the drop off point.


02-02-2008, 09:25 AM
Cool thanks!!