The portage is good news to boaters floating the Little Tennessee, who will have an easier time scooting around the dam, but it will also provide improved public access to the water’s edge.
It will feature a put-in and take-out for kayaks and canoes, as well as a 540-foot trail down to the water from the parking lot.
Construction is about 97 percent complete, but restoration work at the Franklin Powerhouse and Dam is also underway, meaning that the area must remain closed to the public for a while.
The improved Lake Emory Access Area on Lakeside Drive also opened in September.
The amenities were put in by Duke Energy as a condition of getting its federal hydropower permit renewed for the dam. Duke had to provide a portfolio of recreation improvements, including river and lake access areas, across the region as part of the permit renewal terms for its dams.
Separately, Macon County is currently seeking funding for a grant from Duke Energy to put in another access point on Cartoogechaye Creek at the Parker Meadows Recreational Complex. The proposal has not yet met final approval.