Lakeview Drive

The Road to Nowhere

This six-mile drive is also known as “the Road to Nowhere” and affords great views of Fontana Lake.   Lakeview Drive ends one mile beyond a viaduct at the mouth of a tunnel. Work on the road stopped in 1943 and was never continued. “The Road to Nowhere” actually takes you to some nice hiking trails. Lakeshore and Tunnel Trails begin at the end of the parking area. The Lakeshore Trail is one of the newer trails in the Park, extending along the south boundary for about 44 miles. It is actually a configuration of trails developed from old manways, older existing trails, and roads.

This road was constructed shortly after Fontana Dam was constructed and Lake Fontana was formed.  With the flooding of the towns of Judson and Proctor, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park needed a way for people visiting the park to get to the park side of Fontana Lake.  The people that had been displaced from Judson and Proctor also needed a way to reach the cemeteries that were located inside the boundaries of the National Park.

They were promised a road that would extend into the park and all the way to these areas that were cut off.  The construction of Lakeview Drive began in 1943 and though progress was slow it continued until 1972 when funding ran out and the construction halted.  The matter of whether this road would be finished was batted around on a local, state and federal level until 2010 when it was decided that a payout would be made to Swain County, North Carolina instead of the road being completed. Now, to reach the areas of the flooded cities that are inside the GSMNP, they either have to hike overland or wait until the one time a year when the park service takes people across the lake for a homecoming time at the cemeteries.

For this reason, Lakeview Drive is known as the Road to Nowhere.  You can drive this secluded road into the park and take in the beautiful views of Fontana Lake.  Also, if you are into bicycling, this area is not as traveled as most and it gives you a chance to bike without having to worry about a lot of cars.  The road ends at the start of several trails and at the last tunnel that was constructed.  The tunnel was finished and is even paved.  You actually walk through the tunnel to get to the trails.

To get there, travel south on the Newfound Gap Road into Cherokee NC. In Cherokee, turn right on US 19 and drive 10 miles to Bryson City. At the old Swain County Courthouse, turn right onto Everett Street and cross the Tuckasegee River. Follow Everett Street through town (it changes to Lakeview Drive) and continue to the Park boundary. Continue 5 miles into the Park.

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