Cart |

South Holston Lake in Tennessee

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

South Holston Lake is a TVA lake located on the boarder of Tennessee and Virginia. It is mostly surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest. There is very little development on the lake.

It was Friday around noon when I shoved off in my P&H Easky 15 from the Hwy 421 boat ramp. There were only about four empty powerboat trailers in the parking lot that holds about a hundred. I found myself immediately in one of the widest sections of the lake paddling towards the dam. My destination point was some small islands just off the banks of the Little Oak Campground.

I paddled straight down the main channel of the lake towards the campground. Although I only spotted about five powerboats on my trip, I stayed fairly close to the shore.

Once at the Little Oak Campground area, there are several small islands to explore and set up camp. If you plan to camp at Little Oak, come early as it fills up quickly during the weekend. There are several hiking trails around Little Oak that you can enjoy. The campground is on a point of the lake and offers several small coves with which to explore and fish. The Forest Service has created several fish attractions within these small coves to better your chance of a catch.

After a small snack and some good quiet time on my secluded island, I headed up the lake towards my car. Back at the boat ramp, my Garmin Forerunner told me I had traveled seven miles, but you could spend seven days exploring the lake and surrounding forest area.


Several hotels in the Tri-Cities area of Johnson City and Bristol.


Fees only if you plan to camp at Little Oak Campground


From Bristol, TN take Hwy 421 towards South Holston Lake and Mountain City. The put-in point, the Hwy 421 Boat ramp, is just past the bridge on the right


Trip Details

  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location