Lake Hickory Water Temps

Trying to decide on what to get for cold weather gear. I’ve read online at the NRS website and old posts here but I can’t find anywhere online that tells the avg high and low of Lake Hickory in NC.

Anybody have an idea or paddle on a lake nearby that can give recommendations on cold weather gear? Wondering if a farmer john layered with a drytop would be enough…

water temps
I have seen Lake Hickory have highs in the mid-80’s and a low of 48 in February. I wear NRS hydroskin and I am only comfortable for a couple of minutes in the water at the lowest temperatures. But that is all it takes for me to get out of the water. Lake Hickory water temps are comparable to those at Stumpy Point, Lake Norman, NC. Check out this website for real-time temperatures.

P. S. I live in Hickory.

We paddle the up stream lake from you
-Lake James, and as the previous poster said the air temperature can be anywhere from 30 to 80.

I keep a thermometer with my gear and the water temperature gets down in the mid forties in december and sometimes lower

We have broken a quarter inch of ice on one occasion

We generally don’t paddle if the day temperature is below fifty. Mainly because I don’t like wearing gloves.

Our dress: poly pro underware, (either shorts or long johns). If it is a real cold day, light weight polar fleece instead.

Then bicycle rain paints and either a light weight splash jacket or a regular winter water proof ski coat.

We use water proof knee high NRS Boundary shoes.

Our jackets have hoods, but I prefer a stocking hat which I can either keep rolled up or down over my ears.

Our criteria is stay close to the shore in case of

that possible misshap which has never occured in many years of paddling.

Also we don’t use our skinny competition boats, but our warm stable QCC’s instead.

Most days we end up sweating, but it is on the cold four o’clock afternoons when we get out of the boat that the cold really hits us



Thanks Guys, exactly what I was looking for. I have no problem paying for the drysuit if necessary but would like to get more flexible clothing to use while the temperatures change.

I swam up to Lake James this last summer and it is by far the most beautiful and clearest lake I have ever been on. Can’t wait to get the kayak up there next year…

Maybe I’ll catch you guys out on the water sometime!

I hate dry suits !
We have them and don’t use them.

We originally bought them, (NRS ones) for our Alaska and Arctic circle trips, but the pants are way too bulky and hot, and with every arm movement, all you hear is “swish, swish, swish”

It is impossible to sneak up on any wildlife, and ruins the quiet of wilderness areas.

Ours are unused now.



For quiet drytops
Look at NRS Motion tops. Pretty warm, but they have a soft water-proof fabric and a glide skin neck gasket.

About the drysuit noise - some of the swish noise isn’t from the drysuit per se, but suits that are too big in the torso or the less breathable ones with stiff material. My better quality suit that fits me less loosely, apparently correctly as I have finally figured out, is distinctly quieter.

I tend to use my drysuit far longer in the year than most, so it can be worm with quite light layers underneath. But this is all personal preference - you’ll have to figure out what works for you.

The wildlife on the lake is my favorite part of paddling. We went out yesterday and a giant flock of canadian geese landed right over us in the cove we were in. It was amazing…

I am going to research my options on the NRS site and I will probably ask some more questions before I order. Wanted to paddle this morning but at 41 degrees outside I will wait and get the right clothing first.


– Last Updated: Oct-19-08 12:00 PM EST –

Through my hunting experience up North (Western NY Winters) in sub zero temps I know the benefit of a high quality wicking first layer under the bulk, especially while moving around.

Anyone have any experience with the NRS Wavelite material as it is on sale right now. Looks heavy enough for core cold weather or would I be better off with a rash guard hydroskin that would be more flexible in warm and cold weather and just a heavier mid layer?

To help what I am thinking:
Core Layer - Hydroskin or Wavelite
Mid Layer - Fleece, Wool Jacket/Sweater
Top/Pant - Semi or Dry Top/Splash pants
Neoprene Boots plus socks
Gloves/Toaster Mitts (My hands always get cold hunting)

P.S. I am a beginner kayaker in a Featherlite 14 kayak. Paddle in coves or river (they call them lakes down here). No rolling planned until next summer. Basically enjoying wildlife, fitness and fishing in my kayak.

For under a drysuit

– Last Updated: Oct-19-08 12:39 PM EST –

Which means that it is intended to keep you warm if dry, not wet. The splash layers you are talking about aren't really there, you'd need more like a two piece dry system at least.

Just a few miles down the road from you
I try to paddle all year.

In colder weather I wear a mid-weight fleece underwear with Extrasport splash pants that have neoprene ankle cuffs and neoprene waist. Have a light weight splash jacket from NRS with a drawstring waist for warmer days and a heavier semi-dry top from Extrasport for colder days that has a neoprene waist. Both have neoprene wrist cuffs and neck.

Also wear Sealskinz waterproof socks and gloves. Some people despise them, but I stay dry. The waterproof barrier is not on the outside layer for some reason, so they will be wet and you can squeeze water out of them but I stay dry. Wear a Chota Low Top Bootie over the socks and on the colder days a thick pair of wool socks under the Sealskinz. Was out on river Friday morning in the rain and stayed warm and dry.

You need to come down to Catawba(just down the road from Hickory) and put in at Lyle Creek, half a mile to the river and you can go up to Lookout Dam, about 5 miles or go down the river to Long Island. That part of the river is for the most part unchanged for the past 40 years. Very peaceful and very few boaters or houses and it was very nice in the rain Friday.

This is great
Glad to hear there are a bunch of local people around here and that sounds like a trip I will have to make.

I see the concensus around these parts is to layer with different semi dry stuff rather than go full drysuit. I am heavily leaning towards this philosphy right now and may just take a month or two off when the lake gets it’s coldest.

Catawba access

I was in Catawba this afternoon and was looking for a place to get on the creek. Is there an access near the bridge in downtown C?

I’d be careful
not to go looking just for opinions that confirm your preconceptions. My wife’s family lives in Hickory–we live in Durham-- and I paddle the Catawba year round when we visit. Water temps are below fifty in Jan/Feb, which to my mind is drysuit water temps. Have been rolling in those conditions and it is way, way to cold for Hydroskin, even a 3mm wetsuit, especially if air temps are also below 50 or the wind is blowing. Sure, you could stay 10 feet from shore and probably do OK, but if you dump mid-river, you’ll be in serious trouble. A Stohlquist BPOD will set you back 600 dollars, not much more than piecing together a wetsuit + drytop and you’ll be much more comfortable and infinitely safer.

Lyle Creek Access

– Last Updated: Oct-20-08 9:36 PM EST –

From Highway 10, in Catawba, turn off onto 6th Ave. NE, which is close to where Highway 10 crosses Lyle Creek. Go about 100 yds. and the road will fork. Stay left on the dirt road and the landing is about another 75 yds. There is a small concrete landing on the creek. Might not look to "safe" if you've never been there before, but I've never had any problems and the police do patrol down there. Locals go there to fish and put in there fishing boats. It is about 1/2 mile to the river and to the left about 4 miles to Lookout Dam and to the right about 6 miles to Long Island boat landing. Very little development on that part of the river, for now, and is very peaceful and quiet. One of my favorite places to get away for awhile.

If you have Google Earth you can check it out.

Hope you get to try it out sometime.


Lyle Creek
Thanks Ted, found it on Google Earth. That’s an excellent place to put in.

Here are some photos I took in the winter of 2007. Nice day on the Catawba.

here in Michigan…
It sounds like you have perfect paddling by you so it hurts me to hear that you may stay in when it’s 41 degrees out. My experience is that it’s hard to have fun if it gets below 20 degrees (unless it’s VERY sunny and VERY calm!)…but 41 is fine for paddling!

In cold weather I take exta dry clothes in a dry bag plus a cell phone plus I don’t stray too far from the vehicle if I’m alone. That frees me up to wear more normal clothes for paddling.

A Hydroskin core layer is extremely effective (usually overkill), even if just a vest. Then all you need are some layers of synthetic clothing (and a windproof outer layer) plus decent comfy gloves (I find that the thin Thunderwear paddling gloves keep you surprisingly warm down to 45-50). A hat is important and I’d bring one with wind-block fabric…I bring two hats since they are easy to pack. You might also bring a small synthetic blanket/throw…I have wrapped it around my feet in very cold weather for added comfort.

Finally - you might consider bringing a few of those reusable hand warmers that you boil in water and then you can release the heat later and it’s toasty warm for 20 minutes or so. Some folks also use those disposable heaters that you can stick in your shoes.

With this system one can also lend stuff to others if they get cold.

Some familiar looking places
Nice photos. Hardly see any other kayakers on that part of the river. In the spring saw about 10 in one day and after that pretty much nothing, usually have the river to myself.

But a lot of the land up river from Lyle Creek has been sold for McMansion development. Saw lots of survey tape hanging in the trees back last winter. Hope the financial crisis puts a big damper on that.

If you ever see a Blue 4-Runner with a sticker on the back glass that will be me.

Lyle Creek
TedCar, we took your suggestion and put in at Lyle Creek yesterday. Nice little access although there were some really interesting characters hanging around the area when we left and some even more interesting ones when we got back. Seems the rule of thumb is to throw whatever trash you have in your hand on the ground, really sad. Other than that, the day was wonderful for a paddle up to Lookout Dam. Next time we go we’ll head west up the creek, how far can you go? Photos are here:

Thanks again, Ted.

I was there yesterday
Put in about 2:00 and went downriver. Didn’t stay too long. Got back a little after 4:00. To pretty a day to stay inside. You must have been in the Volvo SUV. I started to go upriver, but changed my mind.

You can go a little over a mile up the creek before it gets to shallow. Haven’t been up since late spring. The creek gets skanky looking in hot weather but the water is looking a lot better now.

People do like to leave their trash. I pick bottles up sometimes and bring back with me.

It is a nice place to put in even with some of the interesting people around. Have put in about 25 times so far this year and haven’t had any problems yet. Sunday was the most cars I’ve seen there in several months. Spring is the busy time there.

Nice pics and hope to see you there sometime.

Lyle Creek
The Volvo belongs to the guy that went with me, I had the white Ford F150 parked next to your vehicle. Last time we went we paddled from Bill’s Marina all the way to the railroad bridge, that was a long day.