Tucked beneath the towering summit of Shortoff Mountain and the Linville Gorge, Lake James State Park offers visitors a number of outdoor adventure opportunities. With more than 150 miles of mostly wooded, scenic shoreline, the lake is a great destination for fishing, paddling and boating. Access areas include boat launches at Black Bear Boat Access Area, Linville Access Area, and Hidden Cove Access Area. The newest portion, Paddy’s Creek, spans over 3,000 acres including canoe rentals and a large public swimming and beach area.
All the activities one might expect on a 6,812-acre reservoir are available at Lake James State Park, plus a few that might surprise. Along with boating, swimming, fishing and camping, the park offers 15 miles of mountain bike trails as well as remote paddle-in campsites. The park’s Catawba River and Paddy’s Creek access areas complement each other, with tent camping a central feature of the Catawba River Area. Waterfront campsites are 150-300 yards from a parking area. Trails vary from the short, educational Holly Discovery Trail with child-friendly activities to the more adventurous segment of the historic Overmountain Victory Trail. Boat ramps at Hidden Cove and Canal Bridge on NC 126 lie between the main park access areas, and canoe and kayak rentals are available near the swim beach and bathhouse complex.