BMT: Segment 21a (Lakeshore Trail West)
ElevationAscent: 819' 250 m
Descent: -2,725' -830 m
High: 3,644' 1,111 m
Low: 1,711' 521 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 30% (17°)
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“The section of the Benton MacKaye Trail along the western portion of Lakeshore Trail.”— Richard Harris
Five miles from the Twentymile Ranger Station, Twentymile Trail ends at Sassafras Gap and its intersection with the Appalachian Trail. For a great side trip, follow the AT south 0.3 mile to a 0.1 mile spur trail which leads to the Shuckstack Fire Tower with a spectacular view of Fontana Lake.The peak of the mountain appears from a distance to resemble bunches of corn stalks stacked vertically. Such piles of corn stalks were known as Fodderstacks or Shuckstacks. Hazel Creek was once the most popular place along the north shore of Fontana Lake. The Cherokee had both lived and made summer camps along the creek for at least one thousand years. It wasn't until 1830 that the first non-Cherokees were documented in the area. Hazel Creek was allegedly named after the American Hazel Nut trees growing along its banks.
Trail Description: From Sassafras Gap and the intersection of the AT at mile 197.1, cross the AT and head down the Lost Cove Trail through a series of steep switchbacks. Once the trail reaches the creek, the trail follows an old logging railroad bed. There are 13-24 stream crossings (depending on the weather) on this short 2.7 mile trail. This cove has many huge hemlocks which were passed over by the loggers. You may see remnants of trestles and cables from the logging days. At mile 199.1, you'll reach Upper Lost Cove Campsite #91 at the site of an old homestead in a level area. At mile 199.8 you'll reach the Lakeshore Trail junction. The trailhead of the Lakeshore Trail at Fontana Dam is 5.2 miles to your right. Continue straight on the Lakeshore Trail toward Eagle Creek. At mile 200.1, only 0.3 miles past this intersection, you reach Lost Cove Campsite #90 close to the edge of Fontana Lake and Eagle Creek. Cross over Lost Cove Creek on a log bridge. At mile 200.6, cross Eagle Creek on a steel bridge, then turn right at the trail sign. The Eagle Creek Trail continues straight. Climb up over a ridge, then down the other side to the Possum Hollow Campsite #88 at mile 203.6. Look for evidence of old homesteads along this section. Cross another series of low ridges and come to the Hazel Creek Trail intersection in the old village of Proctor at mile 204.9. Cross the Proctor Bridge over Hazel Creek to reach the Proctor Campsite #86 at mile 205.0. All that is left of the old Hazel community are a few foundations and the Calhoun House. You can visit, but do not camp in the Calhoun House, built in 1928 by Granville Calhoun, a railroad builder for the Ritter Lumber Company.
Campsites: Four campsites are along this section, Upper Lost Cove Campsite #91 at mile 199.1, Lost Cove Campsite #90 (reservations required) at mile 200.1, Possum Hollow Campsite #88 (no horses) at mile 203.6, and Proctor Campsite #86 (reservations required) at mile 205.0, which is located on the old baseball field for the town of Proctor.
Water Sources: Each campsite has water which should be treated and there are several creek crossings where water is available. Lost Cove Campsite #90 is heavily used. Proctor Campsite #86 gets its water from Hazel Creek.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park