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The Benton MacKaye Trail section from Tapoco Lodge to Fontana Dam.

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Point to Point

3,221' 982 m


1,148' 350 m


3,071' 936 m


2,457' 749 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (29°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Views

Section Of

Need to Know

For more information, visit the Benton MacKaye Trail Association's website.


Points of Interest along this section: The section from Fontana Village Lodge to the AT is on bike trails operated by Fontana Village. The trail then co-routes with the AT by Fontana Marina and Fontana Dam Shelter, then crosses Fontana Dam.

Trail Description: From the Tapoco Lodge gate, follow US129 (mile 179.1) south for 100 yards to Meadow Branch Road. Just up the road, you'll see a bridge crossing the creek at the James F. Burchfield Trailhead, named to honor the FS employee who fought for years to keep the Yellow Creek Mountain Trail as an active trail. Cross this bridge and head up through a series of switchbacks to the ridgeline and follow this ridgetop trail to Old Field Gap Road. Cross the road and head up the gravel road FS251 past the gate (beware of logging trucks). A short way up this road, turn left off the road onto the BMT and back up to the ridgetop. At mile 183.4 you'll reenter the FS road and follow it to the end of the road. The trail goes off the end steeply downhill. At mile 184.4 you'll reach the Powerline Road. Turn right and follow this dirt road around underneath the power lines to where the trail again leaves the road and goes to Kirkland Gap. At mile 186.3 you'll pass by an old microwave tower. At mile 186.9 Lookout Rock is an outcrop with great views toward the Smokies. At mile 187.1 at Green Gap, turn left off the ridge and follow this trail to Fontana Village Lodge at mile 188.8. The trail then follows a mountain bike trail until it intersects with the Lewellyn Cove Trail at mile 189.4. The BMT goes right on this trail, circling around the upper rim of the Cove, then intersects with the Lower Lewellyn Cove Loop Trail at mile 190.7. At mile 190.9 the BMT joins FS 2624, a gravel road. At mile 191.6 the BMT intersects with the AT. Turn north (left) onto the AT and follow it across NC 28, then by the Fontana Marina (mile 191) and the Fontana Dam AT Shelter (mile 193.4)

Campsites: There are a few possible campsites on this section. At mile 180.8 there is a side trail to a dry campsite. At mile 182.2, 182.7, and 183.4 one could camp by the FS road.

Water Sources: The only water along Yellow Creek Mountain is from Meadow Branch (D) and near the campsites. Water is available at Fontana Village, the marina and the AT shelter, and at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center.


Shared By:

Richard Harris with improvements by brett decker

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 1 vote


in Tapoco


  3.0 from 1 vote
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37 Views Last Month
1,702 Since Feb 15, 2019
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Shuckstack Fire Tower from the top of Fontana Dam (a little bit closer...)
May 12, 2019 near Robbins…, NC
Lookout Rock provides fantastic views of Fontana Lake.
Mar 13, 2017 near Robbins…, NC
View from Bear Pen Gap
Apr 7, 2020 near Robbins…, NC
Historic Tapoco Lodge - cold beer and the best pizza on the trail
Apr 7, 2020 near Robbins…, NC
There several trails converging at this junction. Lewellyn Cove, Whiting Rail, and Gold Branch
Mar 8, 2018 near Robbins…, NC



Current Trail Conditions

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Jan 12, 2019
Alice Thorsen

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