On The Water

The waterways of the NC Triad are as diverse as its land. Here, there are rivers that require careful kayaking, protected byways that allow only fishermen and women, and wide-open lakes and reservoirs for powerboats and jet skiers. Every corner of the region has lakes, rivers, and streams, encouraging every type of access to the natural beauty of the NC Triad.

Winding Through the NC Triad

Both the Haw and Uwharrie Rivers are great stretches to paddle down—including camping options along their banks—during all but the wettest times of year, when these rivers move dangerously fast. Where the Pee Dee River joins the Uwharrie dams, the paddlers give way to power boaters. The area’s numerous swimming areas and boat launches mean summer fun for everyone, while the reservoir includes quieter branches where fishermen and women can cast for smallmouth bass.

An easier paddling-only trail is along the Mayo River and contains fishing holes, hiking trails, and public restrooms. It’s a perfect place to introduce young boaters to the pleasures of paddling while keeping modern amenities within easy reach.

Dammed Lakes Throughout the Triad

The Army Corps of Engineers has left a number of beautiful dammed lakes, large and small, for public recreation in the NC Triad. All welcome sports fishermen and women, and most are well-stocked with native species perfect for a fishing trip. Salem Lake, for instance, is well-stocked with smallmouth bass and welcomes pleasure and fishing boats, but forbids speed boats and jet skis. 

The hatchery at Lake Higgins makes every cast for catfish and trout from a private boat, paddleboard, or canoe a possible success, but this 226-acre lake is careful about allowing any oversized watercraft to make a wake on its surface.

More than four times the size of Lake Higgins, Lake Brandt is a reservoir open morning till midnight for fishermen and women interested in everything from largemouth bass to catfish. Offering many of the same amenities with the same limitations on motorized boating, Lake Brandt is a large lake that welcomes lure fishermen and women in search of lunkers.

High-Speed Boating in the High Mountains

While the tributaries within the Uwharrie National Forest encourage paddling and canoeing, Badin Lake reserves areas for swimming and boating. If you have a need for speed, you can crank up the RPMs on Badin Lake Reservoir, whose many public and private launches offer rentals of jet skis, speedboats, and pontoons.

At the north end of the reservoir, Old Whitney Boat Ramp is a great place for paddlers to put in for a trip upriver or a weekend boater to reserve something that revs high for the weekend. Old North State Club is a spot where recreational boaters can gas up, moor their boats for the day (or season), or rent something for the long weekend.

Whatever your speed, there’s a river and a waterborne engine that matches it in the Triad. 

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