Best Lakes in North Carolina:- North Carolina is home to spectacular natural attractions that draw adventure junkies and nature lovers from across the world. From the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains to beautiful coastal parks and scenic beaches, the state has it all.
It is also home to a plethora of lakes that offer abundant recreational activities such as kayaking, paddling, and water skiing to name a few.
From natural lakes to artificial reservoirs, there is a rich variety of lakes, each with its own set of unique offerings.
Planning a lakeside getaway in this impressive state?
Let’s help you choose the one that’s perfect for you with our list of the 11 best lakes in North Carolina: –
Bass Lake #1
Located in Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, Bass Lake is popular among locals and tourists alike. Hikers and joggers especially love the popular loop hiking trail around the lake.
There are over 25 miles of carriage trails going through the park, perfect for horseback riders and hikers. Recreational activities such as fishing and picnicking are also available.
You can access the lake by hiking down the Parkway or through a lower parking lot. With so much to offer, it’s one of the most popular lakes in North Carolina.
Fontana Lake #2
The largest lake in Western North Carolina, Fontana Lake was created in the 1940s by damming the Little Tennessee River.
Towering at 480 feet, Fontana Dam is the highest in the area east of the Rocky Mountains. Spread across 10,000 acres, the lake constitutes the southern boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
You’ll find around 400 houseboats here along with the remote Fontana Village Resort.
There is a plethora of recreational activities to indulge in such as swimming, boating, and hiking. The Appalachian Trail over North Carolina goes over the Fontana Dam.
If you’re an avid hiker, you can also access the trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest.
Wish to spend the night?
There are many camping spots in the area.
Falls Lake #3
Stretching over 12,000 acres, Falls Lake is a beautiful reservoir that offers plenty of recreational activities. Only a short drive from downtown Durham, it has five beaches and numerous access points for launching boats.
You can go swimming, fishing, paddling, or soak in spectacular views from the numerous overlooks.
Love to hike and bike?
The surrounding Falls Lake State Recreation Area features plenty of trails including part of the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail.
Want to spend some more time? The park also provides camping opportunities.
Lake Nantahala #4
With clear waters, a rich history, and ample recreational activities, Lake Nantahala has it all. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, the pristine lake features around 48 miles of shoreline.
Located near the Nantahala River Gorge, it offers a host of fun activities such as skiing, swimming, white-water rafting, and boating. The lake also draws many anglers who fish for salmon, trout, catfish, and bass.
Got some more time on your hands?
You can camp in the surrounding area or stay in one of the many cottages for a lakeside retreat.
The lake was named by the Cherokee who called the area Nantahala which means “land of the noonday sun”. It’s because the gorge only gets fully lit during the mid-day.
Lake Lure #5
Whether you’re an adventure junkie or a nature lover, this beautiful man-made lake won’t disappoint. Stretching for 720 acres, it has been featured in many popular films.
With a swimming beach, a flowering bridge, and a waterpark on the lake, there is no dearth of recreational activities to enjoy here.
You can rent a pontoon and picnic, go stand-up paddle-boarding, ride a hydro-bike, or canoe over the serene waters, there is something here for everyone. For a small fee, you can also access the beach which has picnic tables and a waterpark.
Visiting with kids?
There’s also a toy train museum and several restaurants nearby. You can also soak in incredible views from Chimney Rock Park. Keep in mind to reach early if you’re visiting during the weekend since the beach has a maximum capacity of 400.
Lake Norman #6
Featuring 500 miles of shoreline, Lake Norman is the largest man-made freshwater lake in the state. It is a popular recreation spot for families and solo travelers alike.
There’s a designated area for swimmers here. Various events are also organized throughout the year such as the NC Brewers and music festival.
From fishing, golfing, and paddle boarding, to hiking, you can find an activity that suits your taste.
Want to make a multiple-day vacation out of it? There are many vacation rentals around the lake. Located only a 45-minute drive from Charlotte, it’s also easily accessible.
Hanging Rock State Park Lake #7
Nestled in the Sauratown Mountains, Hanging Rock State Park Lake was created as a result of a concrete and earthen dam built in 1938. Stretching over 12 acres, the lake has a swimming beach.
You can also enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, and rock climbing here. There are plenty of canoes and rowboats available for rent.
Got some more time on your hands?
Explore the numerous waterfalls in the park and different species of mountain fauna. It also has a large campground for RVs and tents. Vacation cabins are available too.
Price Lake #8
Perched at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, the popular lake draws tourists and locals alike. It enjoys a prime location in Julian Price Memorial Park. During winters, it transforms into a winter wonderland, drawing many skiers and ice skaters.
If you’re visiting during summer or spring, you can enjoy activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, paddle-boating, and row-boating to name a few.
If you have a North Carolina or Virginia fishing license, you can also try your hand at getting a good catch.
With numerous camping sites around, you can easily spend the night in this stunning place.
Greenfield Lake #9
Soak in some tranquillity at this scenic lake. Located in Greenfield Park, it offers a serene escape into nature from the hustle and bustle of the city. Stretching for around 100 acres, the lake is around 200 years old. With verdant gardens and mossy cypress trees all around, it looks straight out of a postcard.
There is a plethora of recreational activities to enjoy here.
You can play tennis on the courts, go skating at the skate park, enjoy kayaking, unwind in the picnic area, or jog on the 4.5-mile trail, there is plenty to keep you engaged. There’s also a footbridge, perfect for taking in the impressive natural beauty all around.
Cedar Cliff Lake #10
Boasting a picturesque 4.5-mile-long coastline, Cedar Cliff Lake is tucked amidst the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Since the lake’s surface is narrow, navigating it is easy for kayaking, boating, and canoeing.
Owing to the abundant population of largemouth bass that migrate from the Tuckasegee River, it’s ideal for fishing. Looking for some more adventure? Go white-water rafting near the west fork of the river and tackle class II-III rapids.
The lake is surrounded by 7,500-acre Gorges State Park which adds to its allure. Activities like cross-country skiing during winter and golfing are also possible nearby.
Beaver Lake #11
Although small, Beaver Lake is one of the most picturesque lakes in North Carolina. Stretching for 65 acres, this artificial reservoir is tucked in the mountains near Asheville.
The lake is maintained by the community of the area and has a small fee for public access. You can go kayaking, paddle-boating, and canoeing. You can also enjoy fishing but it’s for catch and release only.
Head to the 10-acre wetland on the east side. It’s home to a bird sanctuary that draws many bird watchers.
You’ll be able to spot butterflies, songbirds, waterfowl, and more. You might also see the Asheville Yacht Club sailboats in a designated area.
So, start with the one that draws you the most and get ready for an epic lakeside retreat in this impressive state.
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Q. What is the most beautiful lake in North Carolina?
Greenfield Lake, Lake Norman, and Beaver Lake are some of the most beautiful lakes in North Carolina.
Q. What’s the best lake to live on in North Carolina?
Lake Lure, Lake Toxaway, and Fontana Lake are some of the best lake communities in North Carolina.
Q. Are there any lakes in North Carolina?
North Carolina is home to 22 natural lakes.