Ft. Loudoun Reservoir takes its name—along with the odd spelling—from an 18th-century British fort built on a nearby site during the French and Indian War. The fort was named for John Campbell, the fourth Earl of Loudoun, commander of British forces in North America at the time. It was one of the earliest British fortifications on what was then considered the “western frontier.”
Ft. Loudoun is connected by a short canal to Tellico Reservoir, to the south on the nearby Little Tennessee River. Tellico stretches 33 miles up the “Little T” and has 357 miles of shoreline, providing opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming and views of the Cherokee National Forest.
Both reservoirs are close enough to Knoxville, Tenn., for city folk to make primary residences upon them. Yet they’re wild enough to provide weekend getaways for those seeking first-class fishing, boating or birdwatching.
Anglers can catch smallmouth and spotted bass on either lake, and Tellico is known for its numerous, quality-size largemouth as well as abundant crappie and catfish. Good catches can be had from the shoreline and from numerous fishing piers—especially from the large fishing pier at Tellico.
Hikers will want to check out the 28.8 miles of the East Lakeshore Trail network on the Tellico Reservation. There are nine distinct branches—ranging from 1.4 miles to 5 miles, and all easy or moderate in difficulty. Take the easy 3.3-mile Bake Hollow Branch for beautiful scenic vistas of the Cumberland Mountains, or the moderate 4.5 mile Sinking Creek Branch for a lovely walk through the woods that leads to a natural beach.
The tailwater area immediately below Tellico dam is an excellent site for viewing waterfowl including herons, cormorants, gulls, osprey and bald eagles, and a varied landscape of forest and fields provide a diverse habitat for migratory birds. The fields are currently being converted to native grasses and provide an excellent habitat for quail and other birds that prefer open land.
Fort Loudoun and Tellico are so close to Knoxville you could easily make a side trip to see World’s Fair Park with its Sunsphere, walk the trails at Ijams Nature Center or catch a University of Tennessee football game at giant Neyland Stadium, the fifth-largest stadium in the nation. You can even join the “Vol Navy,” and get there by boat!
And at the site of the original Fort Loudoun on the Little Tennessee, there is now Fort Loudoun State Historic Park. The reconstructed fort and the ruins of the 1794 Tellico Blockhouse overlook the water and the Appalachian Mountains.
The park’s interpretative center offers information on the area’s history, and artifacts that were excavated prior to the Fort’s reconstruction. Along with living history and monthly interpretive programs, the park and the Fort Loudoun Association host several popular seasonal events such as the medieval “Trade Faire” in October, and “Christmas at Fort Loudoun”.
It’s always a good time for fun on the Tennessee Valley’s lands and waters. Not sure where to start? We have you covered! Check out some of the best recreational activities on our reservoirs. While you’re enjoying the lakes, trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, share your own stories and photos on Instagram using #TVAfun.
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