The Lakeshore trail at Smith Mountain offers a shore line and mountain ridge view of Lake Martin. The trail begins just below the fire tower at the wooden stairway. It is marked with a wooden sign with white blazes. The 2 mile hike is the most strenuous hike available at the park; at time becoming very narrow with steep drop offs. At the beginning of the hike, trekkers will descent the mountain through a burned region passed a few large boulders before coming to wooden trail sign. At this point you can exit the trail for a quicker walk back to the parking lot or continue along the Lakeshore trail. Continuing on the trail, the terrain becomes steeper and enters a heavily forested region. With a high population of pines, the trail is often covered thick in pine needles. At two points the trail passes through valleys which require good footing when making your way out the opposite side. The trail winds back and forth from the start from 1/2 mile before reaching the shore line.
If you’re looking for a break, follow the sign to the resting bench for a great view of the lake from a small peninsula. At this point, the trail begins to follow the shore of Lake Martin. The next 1/8 mile are lightly tree covered and offer some nice birding spots. Reaching the 5/8 mile point, the trail makes a vast transition from the pine covered path to a very rocky, narrow path. The trail begins to hug the side of the mountain as it continues to climb in altitude. There are several benches and vistas along the path that offer good photography and a chance to catch your breath. At one point, roughly 3/4 mile in, the trail has been damaged by a small land side. Hikers must hug the cliff as they pass through this region as it is very steep and quite slick. The path follows the lake before taking an abrupt 90 degree turn back towards the north west.
The trail becomes slightly wider and again pass through a pine forest. Trekkers will pass an old logging road before starting a climb towards the peak of the mountain. At 1 mile, you will come to an exposed boulder field and a great view of the Smith Mountain fire tower. Blazes in this area are painted on the rocks and sometimes covered by leaves. This section of the trail is straight as you continue to climb the mountain; often steep at times. Near the top, the path curves several times before reaching the crest, a bench and a great resting spot. Stop and enjoy the view as this is the highest point (besides the fire tower) that the trail reaches.
The trail then takes a turns downhill along a steep, path with loose rocks. The trail finally turns back north as it flattens out through the forest. At the slue, 1 4/10 miles into the hike, you will turn back south for a brief walk before turning back north. For the rest of the hike, the path is dirt and easy to walk. It follows a lower ridge of the mountain as it makes it way back to the parking lot. You will intersect two other trails leading down from the fire tower. The exit way is well marked and easy to follow.
Overall the scenery along the path is pleasing, however, the hike is strenuous. Watching your step is important especially along the shore line portion of the trail. Carry plenty of water as that section of the trail is fully exposed to the sun and a hot walk during the summer months. The wildlife is most prominent in the wooded areas.