This Saturday sees the return of the Paddle Grapple as the Southeast Paddle Sports Series third race of 2016. The PG debuted in 2014 with 100 paddlers which included Oscar Chalupsky and many of the top regional familiar faces. Due to permit issues, the race went on hiatus in 2015 but is back for 2016.
Nestled in between the mountains of the North Carolina high country, the action takes place on the pristine Lake Fontana. Nearby Nantahala river offers whitewater paddling as well as dining and shopping at the Nantahala Outdoor Center outfitter.
Bring your mountain bike (or rent at NOC) as the area is home to some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. The Tsali trail system is literally a stone's throw from the race start and features some of the tastiest singletrack known to fat tires. Or, if cycling isn't for you, there are also many hiking trails in the region as well, including sections of the Appalachian trail. Lodging is available via cabin and cottage rentals, but the better bet would be camping at the nearby Fontana Lake Campground.
The location showcases the diversity for those traveling to races within the Southeast. Which so far have run the spectrum from backwoods rivers to big Mississippi downriver dashes, ocean races, harbors, marshes and now a cool mountain lake.
The race looks to be a good time and will likely bring some welcome relief from the warmer weather as temperatures tend to run about ten degrees cooler up in these mountains.
Thanks to Chris Hipgrave and the Nantahala Outdoor Center for bringing it back.
Nantahala Outdoor Center: https://noc.com/
Paddle Grapple: https://noc.com/events/paddle-grapple