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Boots Off Paddlecraft lake Rentals
Single Kayaks, Stand-up Paddle boards, Tandem Kayaks, and Canoes 


Want to go out for a paddle and enjoy the clear, pristine blue-green waters of Watauga Lake?  We have plenty of breathtaking views of mountains all around at our end of the 16-mile-long lake, not to mention we also have limited buildings around this end of the lake (by design with no homes or docks) and are surrounded by nothing but the Cherokee National Forest.  The Appalachian Trail runs along the shoreline for several miles too, and at many times of the year while out paddling you will see several hikers on their way north or south on the Trail.  We also have the Shook Branch Recreational beach area a short paddle away from the launch point which makes a great spot to stop and swim or picnic when out paddling the lake. 


Just down the street from our property, we offer FREE drop-off AND pick-up of the equipment at the peaceful Rat Branch Boat Launch, with drop-offs and pick-ups at other locations on Watauga Lake available upon request (Additional Shuttle Fees May Apply).  Customers have no loading, strapping down, or unloading to worry about as we do all the work for them!  They just have to paddle and enjoy the day!  The Rat Branch Boat Launch also features a fishing pier which is right next to the gravel kayak launch area.  A quick search online about Watauga Lake, and it's easy to discover that it's one of the top-rated fishing lakes in the United States and has many interesting and intriguing facts about it to be found.  It can be a challenging lake to fish, but very rewarding with a large variety of freshwater fish, including Trout and Walleye!  Let us help you get on the water today.  Are you ready for your Lake Day?




PLEASE CALL OR TEXT 239-218-3904 TO SCHEDULE OR CALL 423-725-3094


Boots Off Alupanel Sign.jpg
Single Kayaks & Stand-Up Paddle Boards


Half-Day (up to 4 hours)

$40 per Kayak or SUP + taxes & fees


Full-Day (up to 8 hours)

$60 per Kayak or SUP + taxes & fees

*Overnight pricing available upon request

Tandem Kayaks & Canoes

Half-Day (up to 4 hours)

$60 per Kayak or Canoe + taxes & fees

Full-Day (up to 8 hours)

$80 per Kayak or Canoe + taxes & fees


*Overnight pricing available upon request

the Watauga Lake Boots Off aqua blaze
"An 8–10 mile paddle gets you 21 miles up or down the A.T."
can be done northbound or southbound
What is it?

The Watauga Lake Boots Off Aqua Blaze is designed to be a fun and leisurely kayak or canoe paddle across beautiful Watauga Lake for Appalachian Trail hikers (or anyone interested in this type of long-distance paddle) that gets them out on the water for the day and works another muscle group than just their legs.   An 8-10 mile paddle will get the hikers 21 miles up trail (northbound) or down trail (southbound) depending on which direction the hiker is trying to make progress in.  A fun Lake Day!  It can be done several different ways and can be done as fast or as slow as the hiker or group wants.  It gets it's name based off the "white blazes" used to mark the Appalachian Trail; however, in this case, instead of following "white blazes" as hikers do on the A.T. while hiking, during an Aqua Blaze they follow a route on the water.  So simply put, an "Aqua Blaze" is the terminology used when Appalachian Trail thru-hikers kayak or canoe a portion of the trail’s length.

How to sign-up? What are the basics?

We have a sign-up list at the main desk in our General Store and we get all the names of the people interested in the Aqua Blaze to sign-up no later than the night before the next day's paddle with 24 hours advance notice preferred (we need know number of people in advance for planning of equipment, staffing, and available vehicles for shuttling group and equipment depending on group size).  Usually no more than 14 people at a time maximum, which then allows us to offer better group rates.  When more people sign-up, we are able to offer better discounted group rates and help everyone save a little money to be able to have a fun, affordable Lake Day!  Basically, the more people that join in, the lower the rate.  It starts at $90 per person for 1-3 people which includes the kayak and equipment rental fees along with the shuttle fees to launch point, landing point, and to the AT trailhead or Boots Off depending which direction you are paddling/hiking.  It takes an average of 4 hours to paddle (with no stops), but many people and groups take longer, up to 6 - 8 hours because they choose to paddle slow and leisurely, stop often to swim and enjoy the day, and just take their time getting to the end.  Others want the challenge and push themselves and do it in less than 4 hours.  Again, it's all how you and your group want to do the Watauga Lake Boots Off Aqua Blaze.  NOTE:  The staff will have you leave your packs behind at Hostel and give you day packs and dry bags/boxes for the trip and then bring your packs and gear to the landing point when they meet you. 

(See bottom of page for pricing breakdown)


What are the aqua blaze paddle Details?

When paddling/hiking northbound, we drop-off everyone off at the launch point down the road

(2-minute drive) at the Rat Branch Boat Launch, so basically leaving at mile 428.5, paddling 8-10 miles on the lake stopping at whichever islands and shoreline features along the way you and your group chooses, and ultimately getting dropped at TN 91 / Cross Mountain Road mile 449.  A brief 20-minute road drive from the landing point (Bayview Family Campground and Marina) gets you back up on the mountain to the TN 91 Trailhead and on your way Northbound.  There is also the option to come back to Boots Off for a 2nd night of fun and then back to the TN 91 crossing in the morning.  People can make that decision on an individual basis, and there is the option in which part of the group moves north and the other part comes back to Boots Off.  It’s all how you and your group want to do it and we try to be as flexible and accommodating as we can.  **NOTE:  EVERYONE GETTING THE GROUP DISCOUNTED RATE NEEDS TO ARRIVE AT LANDING POINT TOGETHER AND WILL BE SHUTTLED TOGETHER AS A GROUP SINCE THEY ARE GETTING A DISOUNTED RATE.  THOSE THAT WANT TO BE ON THEIR "OWN SCHEDULE", APART FROM THE GROUP, WILL HAVE TO PAY FULL PRICE FOR THEIR AQUA BLAZE. 

The staff member(s) running the Aqua Blaze shuttle will show you the route on a paper map (NOTE: IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO TAKE NOTE OF ROUTE, SNAP PICTURES WITH YOUR PHONE, LISTEN TO WHEN YOU OR YOUR GROUP ARE SUPPOSED TO CALL OR TEXT THE STAFF MEMEBER SO WE CAN FIGURE THE ROUGH E.T.A., AND PAY ATTENTION DURING THE PRE-AQUA BLAZE MEETING).  They will show you points of interests on the map like the big island, named Clifford Island, to stop at, where you can hang out or swim at, and other features and points of interest.  They will also tell you where you or someone in the group is supposed to call or text them so they can figure rough E.T.A and tell you to note mileage signs on the lake so you know when to make a turn and so forth.  PLEASE PAY ATTENTION DURING PRE-AQUA BLAZE MEETING!  Feel free to explore the shorelines and other areas if you all choose to and take whichever route interests you and your group.  However, ultimately you and your group will be pulling out TOGETHER at the landing point in the town of Butler at a little boat ramp, located way back at the end of a cove, at Bayview Family Campground and Marina.  It's an a RV park and small marina.  EVERYONE MUST PADDLE PAST ALL THE BOATS IN THE MARINA TO THE END OF THE COVE AND PULL KAYAYS UP ONTO GRASS NEAR THE GAZEBO OUT OF THE WAY OF THE MAIN CEMENT BOAT RAMP (so other vehicles can come and go launching and pulling out their boats on trailers).  The staff member(s) will meet you there with your packs and gear.


Once back on land, the staff member(s) will start cleaning and loading up kayaks.  During this time, if you or your group are hungry, you can go across the street to a restaurant with very tasty food and ice cream called the Butler Trading Post, (423) 281-1078.  For quicker service, place order in advance before the large bridge, the Butler Bridge, that you go under while on the lake, BEFORE you lose cell service, and the food will be ready for you at the restaurant once you finish your paddle with little waiting, otherwise, you can order at the restaurant and eat while we clean and load up boats and the staff member(s) will drive over and pick you and your group up and then make the short drive (20 min) to the TN 91 trailhead and drop you off.  Basically, a 8-10 miles gets you 21 miles up trail. A fun-filled Lake Day!  

Thank you for your interest in The Watauga Lake Boots Off Aqua Blaze!  Please scroll down for detailed pricing breakdown.  


For those hiking Southbound, the concept is basically the same with just a few minor differences.  We still need 24-hour advance notice just like the Northbound Aqua Blaze.  However, we pick you up at the TN 91 / Cross Mountain Road A.T. trailhead, bring you down off the mountain to the lake, and then show you the route and explain the same details mentioned above, but just in reverse.  We take your pack back with us and give you a day pack and dry bags/boxes, just like with the Northbound Aqua Blaze.  You call or text the staff member at a pre-determined location so we can roughly figure your E.T.A. and then we pick you up near the Hostel at the Rat Branch Boat Launch, landing the kayak in the gravel launch area next to the fishing pier.  You then come back to the Hostel to pay and get your pack and choose to either stay with us for the night or continue hiking on.  Of course, the Southbound Aqua Blaze is more dependent upon good weather and air temperatures at that time of year which will help you have a fun and enjoyable Lake Day.  We do our best to accommodate and offer this paddle year-round for all hikers to enjoy if they choose.          


PLEASE CALL OR TEXT 239-218-3904 TO SCHEDULE OR CALL 423-725-3094


1-3 People

$90 per person + taxes & fees

4-7 People

$80 per person + taxes & fees

8-11 People

$70 per person + taxes & fees

12-14 People

$60 per person + taxes & fees

Boots Off Aqua Blaze Route Pic (2)_edite
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