by Crystal Cockman

April 11, 2018

I visited another one of our local state parks this past week. Located only about an hour and a half from Troy and Asheboro, Lake Norman State Park is a convenient place for a day trip. The address for the park is 759 State Park Road Troutman, NC 28166. The park is located in Iredell County and is 10 miles south of Statesville and 32 miles north of Charlotte. You can reach the park by taking exit 42 off I-77 and following the signs. There are a wide variety of amenities at the park and activities that can be done here include hiking, biking, boating, fishing, picnicking, and swimming.

The park was formed in September, 1962, when Duke Power Company donated 1,328 acres of land on the northeastern shore of Lake Norman to the state. Lake Norman is North Carolina’s 11th state park created. Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. The lake itself was created from 1959 to 1964 when Duke Power Company built the Cowans Ford Dam across the Catawba River to generate electrical energy. The creation of the lake led to further industrialization of Mecklenburg County, helping establish Charlotte as a major trade center.

There are 30.5 miles of biking trails at the park. There are 7.5 miles of hiking only trails. The longest trail is the Lake Shore Trail, which is a large loop trail, but there’s a Short Turn Trail in the middle that allows you to cut that distance in half if you prefer a shorter hike. You can do either the northern or the southern loop, both approximately 3 miles in length.

There is family tent/trailer camping with tent pads, picnic tables and grills at 33 sites for a fee. There is also group tent camping with a minimum of 7 people and a maximum of 25 people. There are also picnic shelters in two areas that can be reserved. There are picnic tables located in three different areas inside the park and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pedal boats, kayaks, paddle boards, and canoes can be rented for use on the Park Lake. Boat rentals are generally available May through September, daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m. being the last rental. Boat rentals in the cool weather months are available daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with 3:30 p.m. being the last rental. All boat rentals are subject to staff availability. Canoes accommodate 1 to 4 persons each, pedal boats accommodate 2 to 4 persons, kayaks and paddle boards accommodate only 1 person each. The fee for the canoe and pedal boat rental are $5 per hour. Privately owned boats and watercraft may access Lake Norman from the boat launch area located at the south end of the park.

A swim area is located in the south area of the park at the end of State Park Road near an accessible fishing pier and the pier picnic area. The complex includes a 125-yard-long sand beach, parking area and bathhouse with concession stand, restrooms, changing stalls, warm showers and lockers. Lifeguard service and locker rooms are only offered from 10am to 5:30pm from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day. The concession stand is also open daily from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day as staffing allows. Swimming fees are only charged when lifeguards are on duty. The fees are: Adult (13 and over) – $5/day; Child (ages 3 – 12) – $4/day.

Rangers hold regularly scheduled educational and interpretive programs about Lake Norman State Park. They have several events coming up in April. On Friday, April 20th from 7:30pm to 9:30pm they will have a Star Party, looking at stars through telescopes and playing star games. On Sunday, April 22 from 2:00pm – 3:00pm they will celebrate Earth Day and talk about the importance of preserving our natural world. Attendees will plant a native flower seed to keep as a reminder. On April 28th, from 10:00am to 11:00am, a ranger will lead an easy nature hike and showcase some of the plants and animals that live in the park. You contact the visitor center to sign up for one of these events or to arrange a special exploration for your group or class. The phone number is 704-528-6350. Consider attending one of these great events or venturing out to Lake Norman State Park for your own adventure.