Lakes Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

6 Best Lakes Near Charlotte, North Carolina

Written by Boatsetter Team
September 12, 2022

Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

The Carolinas, located on the US Atlantic Coast, is a natural playground for travelers afoot and aboard!

If you’re a resident of Charlotte or a passerby looking for what to do and how to do fun water activities near Charlotte, look no further, Boatsetter will be your guide! Here are 6 of the best lakes near Charlotte:

  1. Lake Norman
  2. Mountain Island Lake
  3. Lake Wylie
  4. Lake James
  5. Lake Lure
  6. Lake Waccamaw

Read the entire post to catch additional Pro Boatsetter Tips!

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1. Lake Norman

Lake Norman, Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lake Norman is just 30 minutes north of Charlotte and is the largest artificial lake in North Carolina. It is a popular destination for boating, fishing, swimming, and other watersports. There are even opportunities to scuba dive.

It’s also known as the “Inland Sea.” While it’s a prime location for all your favorite water activities, it is also a significant source of power for North Carolina. Duke Power maintains the lake, where they stock fish and plant trees yearly. The lake is so large that it is located in four counties: Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln, and Mecklenburg. In total, it has more than 500 miles of shoreline.

  • Dockage: Lake Norman Marina, Mountain Creek Marina, River City Marina
  • Target fish: catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, striped bass, and yellow and white perch
  • Boat ramps: Stumpy Creek Boat Landing, Lake Norman State Park Boat Ramp, Ramsey Creek Boat Ramp

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2. Mountain Island Lake

Mountain Island Lake, Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Mountain Island Lake (14 miles long) is located just west of Charlotte, in the Latta Nature Preserve. While this lake is the main source of drinking water for one million Carolinians, boaters here also enjoy its 61-mile shoreline for fishing, kayaking, swimming, and paddleboarding.

This lake is surrounded by lush greenery. The mountain, which sits in the middle, appears as an island.

Mountain Island Lake is one of three great artificial lakes in the Charlotte area!

Here’s a quick Pro Destination Tip: Take I-77 N if you’re driving to Mountain Island Lake from downtown Charlotte for the fastest route.

  • Target fish: largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, black crappie, white crappie, white perch, and striped bass
  • Boat ramps: Mountain Island Lake Boat Access, Neck Road Boat Ramp, Riverbend Boat Ramp

3. Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie, Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lake Wylie is an artificial lake located on the border of South and North Carolina. Its 325 miles of shoreline gives adventure seekers much to do and see. Mix leisure and sport at Lake Wylie. Rent a pontoon for day cruising, but don’t forget to bring your fishing gear aboard. Boat near the Lake Wylie Fishing Pier and you’re sure to make a great catch!

  • Dockage: Terry’s Marina, Long Cove Resort & Marina, Pier 49
  • Target fish: catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass
  • Boat ramps: Copperhead Island Boat Launch (in North Carolina)

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4. Lake James

Lake James, Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lake James is about two hours from Charlotte. You can explore this lake by pontoon.

The lake has more than 150 miles of shoreline. It is the fourth largest artificial lake in North Carolina. There are also several restaurants and cafes located around the lake.

Its name is from James Buchanan Duke, a benefactor of Duke University. Lake James State Park has an extensive hiking trail system and mountain biking trails. In addition, Paddy’s Creek has a sandy beach and designated swim area.

Here’s a quick Pro Destination Tip: You can dock and dine at Bear Creek Marina, a bar and grill on Lake James with juicy burgers, seafood, drinks, and live music. Oh, and a place to park your boat. Want more tips on how to successfully dock and dine?

  • Dockage: Lake James Marina, Mimosa Boat Landing
  • Target fish: largemouth and smallmouth bass, blue catfish, black crappie, tiger muskie, and other species
  • Boat ramps: Public Boat Access Lake James, Black Bear Boat Ramp, Hidden Cove Public Boat Access

5. Lake Lure

Lake Lure, Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lake Lure is located in Rutherford County, North Carolina. It sits roughly an hour and a half from Charlotte. This destination holds a view of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountain.

The lake has 27 miles of shoreline for boaters to explore, including Lake Lure Beach, hiking trails, and a water park. Beaches are open to swimming, so make sure to bring your bathing suits and jump right in.

Here’s a Pro Destination Tip: Go to the Flowering Bridge for the most stunning pictures. It’s home to over 250,000 petunias that bloom from May to September.

Chimney Rock is one of the most famous sightseeing opportunities in the area. It’s a 750-foot granite monolith that offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Last but not least, make sure to explore all the water coves like Firefly Cove, Pirates Cove, and Falls View Cove.

  • Dockage: Lake Lure Washburn Marina
  • Target fish: largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, bream/bluegills, crappie, perch, white bass, carp, and several species of catfish
  • Boat ramps: Boat Launch (in Lake Lure Washburn Marina)

Find Boat Rentals for Lake Lure

6. Lake Waccamaw

Lake Waccamaw, Near Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lake Waccamaw (14,000 acres) is located in Columbus County, North Carolina, about four hours from Charlotte. Along its 26 miles of shoreline are many things to do and sights to see; its main point of access is through the Lake Waccamaw State Park.

The park holds campsites, hiking trails, and amenities specific to boaters like boat ramps. Boaters are welcome to jump in and swim in Lake Waccamaw! You may also use the lake for day cruising, row boating, or paddling.

Just know that you are boating in one of the most beautiful lakes in North Carolina. Lake Waccamaw is regarded as a bay lake for its abundance of sweet bay, and red bay trees growing beside the shore. Here’s one last important tip.

Pro Destination Tip: Bring your furry first mate boating with you at Lake Waccamaw. This pet-friendly lake allows your pets to come with you so long as they are on their leash on land! Lake Waccamaw is a great boating destination for you and your pet.

  • Target fish: redbreast sunfish, bluegill, redear sunfish, and largemouth bass
  • Boat ramps: Boat Launch (in Waccamaw State Park), NC Wildlife Boat Ramp

Discover boating destinations like Charlotte, NC at Boating Guides & Resources!

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