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Old 03-23-2012, 04:20 PM
2 posts, read 3,752 times
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My husband and I, along with our 4 children are renting a lakehouse on Lake Watauga the last week in June. We can't wait! We have never visited this area of Tennessee, but have loved looking at how beautiful this area is, and have always dreamed of visiting. We would like to bring our 21 foot open bow Sea Ray along (we will be coming from southern Indiana....7 hour trip). Now, after I have booked the house, it's on Lakeview Drive, I am worried it will be too mountainous for us to pull our boat? We will be driving an Expedition, 8 cylinder. Will we make it? We have vacationed in Gatlinburg, stayed on top of the mountains. Hopefully some locals could provide me some more info? Besides boating, fishing, and tubing, my kids want to try out the nearby zip line, and the gem hunting, Grandfather Mountain....eat at Captains Table. Anything else we should be sure to do? My kids range from 7 to 18 years of age. We want to take some hikes, too. Like I said...we can' wait!! Thanks so much!!....Stephanie
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Old 03-23-2012, 08:31 PM
Location: Sullivan County, Tennessee
508 posts, read 1,229,253 times
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Lakeview Drive is on the Roan Creek embayment of Watauga and as I recall the shoreline is fairly steep on both sides of Lakeview Drive along that entire stretch. I don't think you will have any problems with steep roads between Indiana and Lakeview Drive but you might have a problem with driveway access at your rental if you plan on keeping the boat at the house. I recall Lakeview being well up a steep slope above the lake with houses both below the road and above the road (driveways being wherever they would fit, or not). You didn't say if the house has lake access with docking facilities. Much of the Watauga shoreline is steep right down to the water.

Have you looked at the availability of boat ramps and marinas on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources site:

TWRA - Maps of Watauga Reservoir's Boat Ramps and Marinas

Lakeview Drive coincides the the facility marked 7 (Midway Marina) on the TWRA map. There was a marina in that area that was bought by a North Carolina developer for the Daniel's Trace Project (Doe Mountain) that subsequently went into bankruptcy following the death of the developer (not to mention the recession). I saw lots of internet references to Midway Marina but not much info other than a phone number:

Midway Marina Butler 37640 - Marinas - Tennessee TN Butler Business Directory - Allthetennessee.com

The TWRA boat ramp marked A on the map is the Rat Branch facility that I would recommend for a large rig like yours, especially with concern about steep access. You don't want to launch your tow vehicle along with the boat. I think nearby Lakeshore Marina ( marked 1 on map) has a good, accessible ramp. Lakeshore is also home to Captain's Table you mentioned. Some of the other ramps and facilities might be more difficult.

Regarding attractions in the mountains, you might visit Tweetsie Railroad between Boone and Blowing Rock. It's a smallish theme park built around a narrow gauge railway. One of their two locomotives is former ETWNC-RR No. 12 (Baldwin) that plied between Johnson City, TN and Boone, NC in early 20th century. Some of the steepest railroad grades in the nation on the ETWNC.

In late June the Rhododendron Gardens on Roan Mountain will be past their peak but may still be worth a visit. It's a steep climb to over 6,000 ft (leave the boat at home) at the gardens but it is a great view as long as you are not in a cloud. The gardens were once the site of the 200+ room Cloudland Hotel. In the late 1800s wealthy folks from the "flatlands" would arrive at Roan Mountain Station on the ETWNC and then ride wagons 12 miles to the top of the mountain for multi-week stays. Also, there is a nice TN state park at the foot of the mountain but the mountain-top gardens are USFS. You can go on over into NC from the gardens to Spruce Pine where lots of "gem mining" can be done. Don't miss the Blue Ridge Parkway- it's my favorite ride, especially from Little Switzerland to Blowing Rock.
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Old 03-24-2012, 06:31 AM
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Jim-thank you so much for the information. It is very helpful. Your descriptions in your last paragraph help me to visualize the beauty that awaits us! The house does have a boat dock, and we were told there was a launching facility close by. I will pull up the website you provided and do some more in depth investigating. Thank you so much! My children are literally counting down the time already.
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Old 03-24-2012, 09:52 AM
Location: Sullivan County, Tennessee
508 posts, read 1,229,253 times
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I hope you have a great visit.

I saw you were interested in taking some mountain hikes. I'm going to drop in some links related to hiking in that area. Also a very popular pastime for both locals and visitors is taking a bicycle shuttle from Damascus, Va (just north of Mountain City, Tn) to the high point of the Virginia Creeper Trail at Whitetop Pass and bicycling back to Damascus (about 20 miles- all downhill).

The Virginia Creeper Trail

Johnson County Trails Association

Rogers Ridge Scenic Area Dayhike

Price Park Trails Map


I'll make a comment about Quincy's Pizza in Damascus, Va mentioned in the Sierra Club article. It has gone back under original ownership or other local ownership and has live music several nights a week. Seems to be very popular currently.
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