Lakes of Catawba River: Canoe, camp, relax and enjoy
The eleven lakes of the Catawba River offers paddlers a variety of opportunities to canoe, camp and explore. The Catawba River valley has a rich and varied history. Authors Diane Milks, Yon Lambert and Louise Pettus suggest that the river’s history dates to about 8000 BC. It was home to more than 25,000 different groups of Native Americans.
Milks, Lambert and Pettus wrote The Catawba River Companion. According them, Native Americans farmed significant stretches of Catawba. Their name is Yap Ye Iswa (yap-yap-iswong): ‘People of the river.’
The Catawba River begins near Mount Mitchell in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It flows 225 to Lake Wateree near Columbia, South Carolina. It joins the Wateree and Santee rivers and flows another 299 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.
Lake James forms at the confluence of Catawba and Linville Rivers. It is home to Lake James State Park. Recreation includes canoeing, kayaking and boating. There are hiking and bike routes. Lakeside camping and nearby Bed and Breakfasts are available.
Lake James is north of Interstate 40, near Pisgah National Forest in McDowell and Burke counties North Carolina.
Lake Rhodhiss is next, followed by Lake Hickory and Lookout Shoals Lake. Rhodhiss is the boundary between Burke and Caldwell Counties. Lake Rhodhiss and Lake Hickory are north of Interstate 40 near Morganton, Great Falls and Hickory North Carolina
Recreation includes paddling, biking and fishing. Canoe accesses are plentiful along the three lakes. Lakeside camping, Bed and Breakfasts are available.
Lake Norman, with 32,475 acres, is “Regarded as the playground of Catawba River.” It borders four counties from Statesville to Charlotte North Carolina. Lake Norman has a 540-mile shoreline.
There is a state park, three county parks and fourteen marinas. Recreation is virtually unlimited. The lake even has its own magazine: Lake Norman Magazine. Take Interstate 77 at exits 28 to 45.
Mountain Island Lake has 3,281 acres surface area and 61 miles shoreline. The shores are mostly wildlife refuges and nature preserves. The lake borders Mecklenburg and Gaston counties. Recreation includes paddling, biking, fishing and lakeside camping.
Latta Plantation Nature Preserves occupies 1,290 acres of Mountain Island Lake. Latta is in Mecklenburg County. It is one of the country’s largest nature preserve.
Lake Wylie begins the Catawba River’s journey into South Carolina. The lake is the boundary between the two states. At one time, it was the Catawba Lake.
It has a surface area of 13,443 acres and a 325-mile shoreline. Lake Wylie is the third largest lake of the Catawba. Boat launches, canoe put-ins and fishing areas dot the shoreline. Lakeside camping and nearby Bed and Breakfasts are available.
The Catawba flows south of Lake Wylie until it reaches Fishing Creek Lake. Fishing Creek borders Chester and Lancaster counties is South Carolina.
Below Fishing Creek Lake, a series of islands divide the Catawba “In a jumbled maze of lakes, shoals and hydro-stations. Locals know this part of the river as Stumpy Pond and Great Falls Reservoir.
The three lakes parallel US 21 in Chester County and Interstate 77.
Lake Wateree serves as the end of Catawba and the beginning Wateree River. Lake Wateree parallels Interstate 77 through Fairfield County, South Carolina. The eastern shores are from SC 97 in Kershaw County.
Paddling, fishing, lakeside camping and bike trails are available.