Catawba River Blueway - Mountain Island Lake Section

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Pace Yourself

Plan to exercise for short time or distance, at a comfortable pace. As you become more active, you can gradually increase your output and notice your endurance as it improves.


The Mountain Island Lake section of the Catawba River has a few boat launched located along its course. 

Launch 1: Highway 73 Access Area

Address - approximately 8670 NC-73, Stanley, NC 28164 MAP


Launch 2: Neck Road Access (Approximately 1 mile Northwest of Latta Plantation)

Address - 5898 Neck Road Huntersville, NC 28078 MAP 


Launch 3: Latta Plantation Nature Preserve (Appoximately 1 mile South of Neck Road Access)

Address - 60' Access Street, Huntersville, NC MAP


Launch 4: Latta Plantation Nature Preserve (Approximately 2.4-mile South of Latta Plantation - Launch 2) Kayak Only

Address - Mountain Island Lake, North Carolina, Huntersville, NC 28078 (off of Sample Road), Huntersville, NC 28078 MAP


Visitors with their own canoes and kayaks can launch from either the North Canoe Access directly into Mountain Island Lake or from the Gar Creek Canoe Access into the Gar Creek inlet. The North Canoe Access is on the right just past the Visitor Center and the Garr Creek Canoe Access is the first gravel road on the left past the Carolina Raptor Center. 


Launch 5: Riverbend Access Area (Approximately 3.5 miles West of Latta Plantation - Launch 3)

Address - 190 Eddie Nichols Road, Mt. Holly, NC 28120 MAP


Mountain Island Lake while only 1/10th the size of Lake Norman, this lake provides drinking water to over 3/4 of a million people in the Charlotte, Mount Holly, Gastonia area. The upper section of Mountain Island Lake is also good for paddling and it is mostly undeveloped due to the presence of a large number of parks and natural areas purchased to help protect the drinking water for Charlotte and other neighboring towns. The best access for paddling are the launches at Latta Plantation Preserve.  If you wish to paddle connecting sections of the blueway (Lake Norman Section and Lake Wylie Section), you need a car as there are no portage trails around the dams.

Mountain Island Lake was created in 1924 with construction of the Mountain Island Hydroelectric Station. At full pond, the Lake has a total surface area of 2,788 acres and 27 miles of shoreline in Mecklenburg County.

"Mountain Island Lake was built in 1924 with the construction of Mountain Island Hydroelectric Station. The lake has approximately 3,281 acres of surface area and 61 miles of shoreline. The lake also supports Riverbend Steam Station by cooling the steam that drives the turbines and provides a dependable water supply for Mount Holly, Gastonia and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina. Full pond elevation is approximately 647.5 feet. Duke Energy provides two boating access areas on the lake and a tailrace fishing platform for bank fishing in cooperation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission." - Duke Energy - Mountain Island Lake

Other Information


It is strongly recommended that you check the release schedule for the dam above the section that you are paddling before starting the trip because water levels can increase quickly on the Catawba. Information about scheduled releases and the impact on downstream flow on the Mountain Island Lake section of the Catawba River is available on the Duke Energy website or by calling 800-829-5253.  



Trail Manager

NCWRC manages the following:

  • Neck Road Access Area
  • Riverbend Access Area

Latta Plantation boat launch is managed by Latta Plantation Nature Preserve

Duke Energy
Lake and Recreation
Phone: 800-829-5253 or 800-829-LAKE

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC 28078
Phone: 980-314-1129

North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission
1751 Varsity Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606
Phone: 919-707-0150


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Mountain Island Lake is located south of Lake Norman and hosts 61 miles of shoreline. Three canoe/kayak launches create a 6.1-mile blueway stretch in this section.

Quick Facts

Trail Uses Paddling
Location Huntersville (NC)
Mount Holly (NC)
Difficulty Easy
Length6.1 miles, One Way
Fees No
Motorized vehiclesUnknown
ADA CompliantNo
Number of parking spacesVaries
Hours of operationDawn - Dusk

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When biking, wear a helmet and use a bell to signal your approach to other trail users. Consider bringing a spare tube and pump so that you can fix a flat tire and offer help to other cyclists in need. When riding on roads, bike in the same direction as traffic.

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