Stunning views, few camping spots dot trail from Shook Branch to Watauga Dam

Published 4:02 pm Thursday, May 12, 2022

Located near the Shook Branch Swimming Area, the out-and-back style trail provides many stunning local views with an easy to moderate skill level.

The trail, unofficially named, is a section of the Appalachian Trail and averages 6.2 miles total. The trail covers the area from Shook Branch to the Watauga Dam.

However, since the trail continues further than Watauga Dam, many choose to turn around and hike back to the beginning.

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The trail has a slowly increasing elevation gain of 1,023 feet, making it slightly moderate in skill level. On average, it takes around three hours to complete.

“Although the trail is long, I like being able to hike back to the swimming area. It’s like a reward after the hard work,” said Billy Quillen.

Major concerns for the trail only include slight steepness and rocky crossing areas. The steep hills can create a difficult time for those who aren’t experienced or have great endurance.

The rocky areas are also a concern because of the risk of falling. This trail is not recommended for anyone with low stamina or balancing problems.

However, the gorgeous lake views and surrounding nature make the hike worth every minute.

“I love hiking here when the flowers are in bloom, it’s just always so pretty,” said Gilbert Fuller.

The trail is open year-round but it’s heavily traveled in the warm seasons. Another feature of the trail is the few camping areas it provides.

There are many spots located towards the lake and near the trail that are meant for camping and even have fire pits. Those wishing to camp are asked to remain cautious of themselves and leave nothing behind.

Dogs are also welcomed on the trail but must remain on leash at all times.

Overall, the trail provides beautiful views and popular spots for everyone who visits.

All photos of this trail are by Gracie Fields.