Thursday, May 10, 2007

Watauga Lake

Completed in 1948 by the TVA, the Watauga Dam created a 6,430 acre, 16 mile long lake that sits 2,000 feet above sea level. To learn more about the town of Butler which was displaced by the creation of Watauga Lake, click here. The Appalachian Trail runs from its southern most point (near Shook Branch, one of many recreation areas on the south side of the lake) to the dam three miles away. It's a pretty hike, much of which follows the contour of the lake.

Parts of this 3+ mile section of the AT have been re-routed to avoid the steep ups-and-downs, and to have the trail more closely follow the contours of the lake itself.  It makes for a much more enjoyable and scenic hike.  

Directions: To reach the trailhead, take 19E to Hampton, TN, turn north onto Highway 321/67 towards Mountain City. Drive 3.2 miles to the trailhead at Shook Branch Recreation Area (on your left). Click here for map.


  1. Wow i never was to Watauga lake. Are people aloud to swim?

  2. Yes -- in fact, I saw people swimming there this week (although the water felt pretty cold to me!). There's swimming at Shook Branch (mentioned in the post) and at Watauga Point, which is another recreation area a couple miles further on highway 321/67.

  3. And there is now a group that swims across Watauga Lake every week, with a kayaker following for safety.


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