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Santeetlah Lake in North Carolina - Weekend Trip Report

Trip Overview

The Santeetla Lake is surrounded by the Cheoah District of the Nantahala Forrest and almost 80 percent of the shoreline is public land managed by the Forest Service. There are 76 miles of shoreline.

During September 10-11, 2015 I camped at one of the Forest Service campsites off of Lone Hungry Rd off of Santeetlah Road on Santeetlah Lake, North Carolina. These generally primitive sites with camping pads but no water or toilet facilities. The areas around Thunder Mountain in the northeast area of the lake are the most developed.

The days I was there the lake was virtually deserted and the only boats I saw included a canoe and one fisherman's boat. One night last winter I saw a couple of otters and there are supposedly bear and boar in the area. This night included an owl hooting a good part of the night.

This is a small lake and higher in elevation than other lakes in the area. The shoreline is predominantly pine with a few mixed hardwoods. The area has that pine forest smell. The water was clear and smooth. The campsites were well maintained and clean but I would plead with you to follow the Forest Service recommendations regarding taking out what you take in, burying human waste, and cutting live wood. These were the main detractions.

US Hwy 129 is the access and this area is known as the "Tail of the Dragon" to motor enthusiasts of all sorts, motorcycles, Corvettes, BMWs, and Lotus. This area has a lot of curves and the drivers of these vehicles love the driving experience here. There are multiple pull overs to allow slower traffic to pull to the side and let the faster traffic pass as a common courtesy.

What a great place!

Accommodations:

Primitive - except for tent pads.

Outfitting:

17 foot sea kayak

Fees:

NO camping fees.

Directions:

Follow directions to Robbinsville, North Carolina and Santeetlah Lake

Resources:

The Cheoah Ranger District on Massey Branch Road has maps of the lake and can answer questions about the campsites.

Some are open in the winter.

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip