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Canoeing & Kayaking


Lake Norman, NC, USA
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Copyright 2001 Alfonso Vazquez-Cuervo - See Terms of Use

Our Route Summary

  • Submitted by: Galen Hekhuis
  • Date Submitted: 5/2001
  • Email:
  • Location: south central North Carolina about 30 miles north of Charlotte
  • Class: 0 to 1, most of the turbulence is from motorized pleasure boats
  • Distance Paddled: as much as you like
  • Water: fresh
  • Wildlife: Not as much wildlife as other places I've been


  • Directions: about 30 miles north of Charlotte
  • Fee: none that I recall
  • Description: Oodles of places to put-in or take-out: It's a big lake
  • Parking: adjacent unpaved
  • Facilities: restrooms, picnic areas, camping
  • Handicap Access: yes

What We Saw

Lake Norman is big. Real big. They built a dam across the Catawba River, backed up several many creeks, and there was Lake Norman. At the dam there is the expected hydroelectric plant, but in addition is a nuclear power plant, and an energy "explorium."

I stayed in the north end of the lake, in the Duke Power State Park. If you stay in the outer ring of campsites, you can hike right down to the lake, and even get a boat there. I got my kayak down there, and if I can, anyone can. When I was there last fall there was this nifty little cove with a beach. Not so this spring: The water level was higher and the beach was flooded. Made getting in and out of the kayak a bit interesting for me.

The lake is only about half a mile wide at that point, although in places in the south it gets much wider. It's got some big powerboats with a fair share of big wakes. Sometimes the waves get rather confused and choppy, and it is difficult to tell where the waves are coming from: They seem to come from all directions. There are also a large number of fishing boats, the kind with the high seats. I hear the fishing is quite good there, though I don't fish at all. Then there are a great number of the ubiquitous personal watercraft, or whatever those things are called.

It's water, and it's a lake. I wouldn't tout it as the greatest place in the world to paddle, come to think of it, I doubt if I'd tout it in the top ten. In the evening or very early morning, the water can be like glass, and it can be real neat. During the good weather and the middle of the day, the lake can be quite busy, at least when I was there. I didn't see one other paddle craft while I was there. In the rain it can be kind of neat. I used to think that people who used small boats in the rain either did it out of necessity or because they weren't too smart. I find that a waterproof top and my spray skirt is all I need in my kayak. Not many folks are out then. I can deal with that.