North Carolina

I am an avid kayaker, and I’m presently thinking about moving from Wisconsin to the Charlotte area of NC. I’m looking to hear from fellow paddlers that kayak in NC. Are there a lot of lakes and rivers that I can paddle my sea kayak? Living in Wisconsin is a kayaker’s dream with lakes & rivers everywhere you turn. I know I’d be miserable moving there without having lots of places to go paddling.

Not a lot
The Catawaba River is the only river, and it is damned in lots of places.

It is not clear.

Mountain Island Lake is a pretty decent place to paddle and that is not clear either.

The largest lake is Lake Norman which is loaded with power boats and also is not clear.

In SC right near Charlotte is Lake Wylie(also not clear)

All of these Lakes are made up from daming the Catawaba.

If you are willing to drive a few hours, Lake James is a beautiful large lake(70 miles of shoreline) with clear water, but there again, on the weekends it is loaded with power boats.

When I lived there I used to paddle Mountain Island Lake

Jack L

As mentioned, the larger local lakes do have a lot of power boat traffic and are not very clear. They aren’t nasty or anything, just not that clear. Norman is big enough to find some areas that don’t get quite as much traffic. But you will still see some. Keep in mind that your occasional big fix is not all that far away. Roughly 3 hours to Myrtle Beach. You would probably want to head north or south of it; just pointing out that the coast is close enough for some weekend getaways. I am in Raleigh, where we can get to Topsail Island in about 2 hours and have some decent sized local lakes with power boats and not really clear. I paddle a rec boat and fish and think it is a great location.

Salt Water
Good morning, Jack! I have President’s Day off work. I’ll probably ride the bike instead of paddle the boat.

Oh yeah. Charlotte. I live closer to Raleigh than Charlotte but I’d guess the advantages NC had over WI would be the coastal paddling and the warmer winters.

Charlotte yakin
I live in north charlotte, MT Island lake is about a mile from my house, if you just want to get your paddle wet its great, the fishing isn’t all that bad either there are a few power boaters but I have found all kind of nooks and cranny’s they cant get too and enjoy the quiet. The national white water center is about 5 miles from home and if you White water also a cool place. If your willing to strap your yaks on the roof and drive a few hours, lake Jocassee is awesome, numerous waterfalls a really nice campsite if you want to do a couple day trip, and of course the coast isn’t to far either,wifey and I are planning a trip there this spring,Find me on here when you get to Charlotte and we can get the crew together and get out there.

I live in central SC about 2 hours
South of Charlotte, NC, and find a lot of interesting paddling within 3 hours of where I live. I paddle the Broad, Tyger, and Enoree rivers which are about an hour and a half south of Charlotte. There is also the Pee Dee, and Lynches Rivers just down I95 about an hour. These are alluvial rivers which are not clear water rivers. Then there are many coastal rivers that are Black Water rivers and swamps. Then if you enjoy sea kayaking there are some of the most undeveloped coastline in the Eastern US about 4-5 hours south of Charlotte between Georgetown and Charleston, SC. there are several foothill and mountain reservoirs which are beautiful. Someone mention lake Jocassee which is a jewel. I love the variety of paddling opportunity found here in the southeast.

Then like Jackl does in the winter you can take a trip to FL and explore other unique paddling waters.

Here are the links for NC and SC paddling reports in the go paddling section of Pnet.

hi rainy

– Last Updated: Feb-18-14 9:39 AM EST –

So, does this mean you'll be switching to the Panthers? Anyway, that Lake Norman looks like it would provide plenty of opportunity. Who cares about power boat traffic; that NC likes it rough.

You won’t be far from the ocean, and
there are a lot of rivers that are wide and deep enough for sea kayaks. But I’d diversify and get a kayak you can use on class 1-2 and an occasional class 3. Much of the very best scenery to the NW of Charlotte is on whitewater rivers, though most are not that difficult.

Biggest advantage is…
you never have to store your kayak or put away your paddle. You can paddle 365 days a year if you want to.

Well, hardly ever.
I don’t know anyplace in the Lower 48 that gets weather where a sane person would go paddling, 360+ days a year.

You’d have to be pretty hardcore to do it, but I was mostly referring to frozen water which is rare in NC and not so rare in WI.

Having been by Lake Norman sooo
many times… Yikes…It got so built up.

Winter would be nice though

Paddling Friends
Check out the Carolina Kayak Club–lots of good information on paddling in NC and along coast plus symposia, trainings and more.

Sold the snow blower and move to Durham from Madison in 1990. Been happy here; no desire to go back.

Kerr Lake
Kerr Lake and County Line Park, located some 40 miles south of the Virginia state line off Interstate 85. Big campsites, many right at the water’s edge. Henderson is about 45 minutes away.

I have paddled Falls Lake
and another lake near Raleigh, NC. both had no motor boat areas if I recall right.

Lake Norman
I have been on Lake Norman several times. My brother takes me out there fishing when I come down to visit. It’s a pretty big lake, & I’m sure it would be a great place to paddle. I’ve also been to Topsail several times. I’ve never kayaked the coastal waters. I’m sure it would become addicting in no time. I’ve been to Hatteras and Ocracoke and loved the beaches out there. Maybe I’ll just have to move closer to the coast.

Thank U, I’ll take U up on that!

I already cheer for the Panthers. I’ve been to a Panthers game in Charlotte, about 2 years after they became a franchise. It’s a beautiful stadium!

Thank U for the links!

I’ll be Googling all this info.
Thank-you to everyone that responded to my posts. I’m going to Google and map out these spots. As well as, checking out all the links & websites. NC may not have the crystal clear lakes that I often paddle in Wisconsin, but at least your lakes don’t freeze over! I kayaked until the end of October, and probably won’t get out again until April. :frowning: