13 Best Lakes In And Near Charlotte, North Carolina

lakes in charlotte nc
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Charlotte is a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. It has a rich history and amazing hospitality. You’ll also find some of the best bed and breakfasts and modern Airbnbs nestled in Charlotte’s stunning nature. The city is blessed with both natural and manmade lakes too. A significant number of these lakes are protected by different conservation agencies that ensure their beauty and the natural resources in them are preserved for future generations. Another factor that makes these lakes attractive is that they are conveniently located in areas boasting beautiful forests, mountains, meadows, and rivers, among other features worth exploring. The water is relatively calm and clear, with conditions that attract a wide range of fun activities such as fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and boating. To have a better understanding of how these lakes compare and differ in their charm, scroll down to find a list of the best lakes in and near Charlotte, North Carolina.

1. Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie (14312970898)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user bobcapra used under CC BY 2.0

Lake Wylie is a large manmade lake just 22.4 km (13.9 mi) from one of the most populous city in North Carolina, Charlotte. The beauty of Lake Wylie and its vicinity present the perfect place to escape the daily hustle and bustle of city life. One way you can explore Lake Wylie is through its exquisite boat charters, just a few miles from several cabins for rent in Charlotte. These action-packed trips include fishing, tubing, and sunset dinners aboard spectacular cruise ships. The lake also has shallow coves where you can stop for more fun with swimming and different water games.

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2. Mountain Island Lake

If you still find yourself searching for “small lakes near me”, then look no further - although the primary role of Mountain Island Lake is to provide fresh drinking water and electricity to the residents, the surrounding areas of this small man-made lake is also a famous recreational spot in Charlotte. The major attractions in this area are the lake itself and the historic Rural Hill Farm. The water in Mountain Island Lake is relatively clear and calm, allowing visitors to dive into a variety of exhilarating adventures such as stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, swimming, and boating. Right off the shores of the lake lies a 485-acre (196-hectare) nature reserve called Rural Hill Nature Preserve. If you love adventure, Rural Hill boasts excellent hiking trails, excursion sites, and a maize maze that guarantee fun for guests of all ages.

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Beautiful lakes near Charlotte

3. Randleman Lake

Randleman Lake, situated in Randolph County, is a captivating reservoir that serves as a vital resource for the region while also providing a serene recreational haven for residents and visitors. Formed by the Randleman Dam on the Deep River, this expansive lake spans over 3,007 acres (1216.89 hectares), creating a peaceful oasis amid the surrounding woodlands and rolling hills.

The lake also offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and picnicking along its pristine shores. Anglers can cast their lines in search of bass, crappie, and catfish, while nature lovers can explore the miles of scenic hiking trails that wind through the adjacent Piedmont Environmental Center.

Randleman Lake

Address: 7123 Adams Farm Rd, Randleman, NC, United States, North Carolina

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4. Lake Norman

Source: Photo by Flickr user Tracie Hall used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Another gorgeous area worth visiting, and one of the lakes close to Charlotte, NC, is the largest man-made lake in the state. Lake Norman, which is situated a just short drive from Uptown Charlotte is blessed with a mild climate, which makes it the ultimate tourist destination all year round. Lake Norman is inhabited by a variety of aquatics and wildlife, which makes it a perfect place for nature enthusiasts to visit. A trip to the lake guarantees stunning views of different types of fish, including the blue catfish, bluegill, crappie, and sauger, among others. Also, around the lake, you will encounter beautiful turtles, frogs, and water snakes, most of which are harmless, so do not be alarmed.

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5. High Rock Lake

High Rock Lake (3071450715)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user J Brew used under CC BY-SA 2.0

High Rock Lake started as a hydroelectric power project in the late 1920s, but over the years, the entire area has been transformed into a major recreational site. This beautiful lake near Charlotte derives its name from the neighboring High Rock Mountain, which is an absolute beauty consisting of stunning cliffs, thick canopies, and lush vegetation—which are inhabited by an impressive array of wildlife. High Rock Lake offers excellent boating opportunities for anybody willing to explore the vast waters with a bass boat, jet ski, powerboat, kayak, or canoe. If you do not own a vessel or equipment, do not worry as there are plenty of rentals here.

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6. Badin Lake

Badin Lake, North Carolina
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user James Willamor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated next to the beautiful Uwharrie National Forest is Badin Lake, an idyllic recreational spot that offers a perfect blend of fun, nature, and water activities. The best time to explore the water is during summer when it is warm. During that time, you will have a fantastic time swimming, fishing, and cruising around with the different vessels that are available on-site for rent. The best way to experience fun at Badin Lake and its vicinity is by camping in the nearby Uwharrie State Park. That way, you will have plenty of time to explore the beautiful hiking trails around the lake and bond with nature in total tranquility.

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7. James Lake

Mountain sky over Lake James. Lake James, May, 2010 (4904722403)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user U.S. Fish and Wil... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

James Lake is a little gem nestled between the picturesque Pisgah National Forest and a short distance from the beautiful hiking and camping sites of Linville Gorge Wilderness. You will not be charged to access the lake, but activities such as swimming, paddling, and boating require a small fee. Fishing is also allowed in Lake James but only to those who are licensed. The most common fish you can expect to catch here is the largemouth bass. Besides its clean and calm waters, Lake James also features great hiking trails that traverse beautiful meadows and mountain ranges worth exploring by hikers, bikers, and outdoor lovers.

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8. Belews Lake

Belews Lake NC-kmf
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kfasimpaur used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Belews Lake is a great recreational spot situated in the foothills of the famous Blue Ridge. There are a number of things to do and see at Lake Belews. Here you can go swimming, boating, fishing, or exploring the gorgeous forests, parks, and hiking trails surrounding the lake. A beautiful phenomenon to look out for when visiting Lake Belews is the early-morning occurrence when steam generated from the nearby power plant forms a picturesque cover atop the water surface. If you are passionate about underwater exploration, the lake has clear water, which is ideal for scuba diving and other forms of water adventure.

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9. Jordan Lake

Sun Rising Parkers Creek Jordan Lake NC SP 3785
Source: Photo by Flickr user bobistraveling used under CC BY 2.0

Jordan Lake is an excellent location for a nature trip. The area boasts stunning views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and nature reserves that are inhabited by thousands of spectacular animal and plant species. Besides the sceneries, Jordan Lake offers an array of activities for visitors of all ages. For instance, the water is relatively calm making it one of the best swimming lakes near Charlotte, NC. It is also conducive for different water activities such as paddleboarding, and snorkeling. Camping is another major activity in Jordan Lake, and so you can expect to interact with a few campers when exploring the area. Whatever you chose to do in Jordan Lake, whether it is camping or hiking, is bound to give you beautiful views and long-lasting memories.

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10. Lake Lure

Beautiful Day with Lake Lure Tours
Source: Photo by Flickr user Smart Destinations used under CC BY-SA 2.0

As the name suggests, Lake Lure is an area of great beauty that attracts visitors from different parts of the world. Lake Lure draws its allure from its world-class museums, parks, and pristine beaches that boast excellent sunbathing and star-watching sites. It is also one of the top day trips from Charlotte. One place of beauty worth visiting here is the sightseeing spot at Chimney Rock Park, which is situated on Broad River, a tributary of Lake Lure. Chimney Rock Park has an ancient monolith, which is a favorite among thousands of hikers who brave these heights to enjoy panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure, and the beautiful countryside of Charlotte.

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11. Hyco Lake

Hyco lake
Source: Photo by Flickr user Nan-Cheng Tsai used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Hyco Lake is a recreational hub with everything you would need for the perfect getaway vacation. Here, you can opt to stay in the beautiful cabin rentals or camp by the lakeside. Either way, you will have a fantastic time fishing, admiring nature, and indulging in the vast array of fun activities. Camping on the site reduces travel time, thereby giving you more time for adventure. Bird-watching has also become an everyday recreational activity at Hyco Lake due to the large numbers of hummingbirds, spotted sandpipers, and cliff swallows residing within the lake region.

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12. Lake Glenville

Source: Photo by Flickr user jalexartis Photog... used under CC BY 2.0

Lake Glenville is a gorgeous lake located just 12 km (8 mi) from Cashiers, Jackson County, NC. It is perfect for those looking to have an adventurous weekend outdoors. You can enjoy various water sports like water skiing, tubing, and paddleboarding. Of course, swimming and fishing are also permitted. Another interesting aspect of this lake is its three waterfalls. Go boating, have a picnic by its shores, take pictures, and catch the beautiful sunsets of North Carolina. Discover the charm of this reservoir with friends and family - everyone will surely have an amazing and memorable time in Lake Glenville.

Lake Glenville

Address: Fayetteville, North Carolina 28723, USA

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13. Nantahala Lake

NOC - Nantahala Outdoor Center
Source: Photo by Flickr user TimothyJ used under CC BY 2.0

Nantahala Lake is a gorgeous body of water located in Macon County, North Carolina. Its calm waters are ideal for kayaking and boating and are connected to Fontana Lake in the north by Nantahala River - a challenging rafting experience complete with rapids and waterfalls. The lake itself is surrounded by picturesque green forests, vegetation, and wildflowers. Fishing for bass or trout is a popular activity, and the area contains plenty of vacation rentals and campsites. Those seeking a change of pace can also explore the beautiful nearby Smokey Mountains and Nantahala River Gorge, ensuring plenty of fun for the whole family.

Nantahala Lake

Address: Wayah Road, Nantahala, Topton, Bryson City, NC 28781

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The pristine waters of Charlotte

Dilworth, Charlotte, NC, USA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user James Willamor used under CC BY-SA 3.0

While Charlotte offers amazing shopping and date night activities, the beauty and tranquility of the lakes in and near the city make it the perfect destination for those looking to relax and unwind in nature’s lap. So if you are doing research for your next adventure in North Carolina, consider our list of the most gorgeous lakes in Charlotte. This is a package that guarantees fun and exhilarating adventure for the whole family.

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Frequently asked questions about lakes in and near Charlotte

1. Which lakes in and near Charlotte are great for boating trips?

If you are excited about taking a boating ride on any of the lakes in and near Charlotte, you can visit Lake Wylie, Mountain Island Lake, Randleman Lake, or High Rock Lake.

2. Which lakes in and near Charlotte can one visit for swimming?

If you are looking forward to swimming a few lengths in one of the lakes in or around Charlotte during your stay here, you can visit Badin Lake, James Lake, Belews Lake, or Jordan Lake.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Josiah Ndung'u is a Mechanical Engineering graduate and a travelling enthusiast who loves networking with new people, learning new cultures, having fun (especially at the beach), and sampling new...Read more

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