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    Mountain biking at Fisher Farm Park.
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    The 12-mile Itusi Trail at Lake Norman State Park.
  • fishing

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    Fishing on Lake Norman.
  • blythe

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    Blythe Landing.

Parks and Recreation

Posted: Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010

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Recreational opportunities abound on Lake Norman. Whether you’re looking to spin around the lake in a boat, take a hike through the forests that surround the lake or spend a peaceful morning fishing for crappie, you’ll find all of it on Lake Norman.

Created in 1963 when Duke Power constructed the Cowans Ford Dam, Lake Norman was named for former Duke president Norman Cocke. Beyond the power it generates, the lake is a major water source for Mooresville, Davidson, Huntersville, Charlotte and Lincoln County. Lake Norman covers 32,475 acres and offers 520 miles of shoreline. Known as the “Inland Sea,” Lake Norman is the largest manmade lake in North Carolina.

Undoubtedly, Lake Norman’s biggest draw is its water activities. On warm weekends, pontoon and power boats dot the lake, many of them towing a water skier. Sailboats also are popular on Lake Norman, which is home to several yacht clubs.

Marinas can be found all around the lake. Many offer both wet and dry storage, as well as boat rentals. Duke Energy, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and local county governments operate a number of public access areas on Lake Norman. For more information about lake access areas and water levels, go to www.duke-energy.com/lakes.

Lake Norman’s plentiful fish population attracts anglers in search of catfish, crappie, yellow perch, striped bass and largemouth bass. A number of fishing guide services provide amateurs with tips for catching the big ones. Local bass fishing tournaments often are held on the lake. In 2004, Lake Norman hosted the Junior Bassmaster Classic, which coincided with the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Wylie, Norman’s sister lake to the south. Lake Norman was a stop on the Men’s Bassmaster Tour in 2005 and the Women’s Bassmaster Tour in 2006.

Four parks along the lake also offer a variety of activities for those who enjoy the outdoors. Lake Norman State Park in Troutman includes 13 miles of shoreline, a public beach and a boat rental harbor where you can rent pedal boats, rowboats and canoes. The park also provides mountain biking and hiking trails, picnic areas, a community building and a campground.

Two parks operated by Mecklenburg County are in Cornelius. Jetton Park, near The Peninsula, covers 105 acres and includes picnic sites, lighted tennis courts, walking trails, a sunning beach, playgrounds, concessions and Waterfront Hall, which hosts weddings and other special events. Nearby, Ramsey Creek Park offers a sunning beach, boat launch, docks, playground, picnic shelters, nature trails and a fishing pier on its 44 acres along Lake Norman.

Also in Cornelius, near Huntersville, Blythe Landing is primarily a boat access area, with floating piers and a boat launch, but the park also features a playground, picnic areas, sand volleyball courts and The Sunshine Café, where you can dock your boat and grab a bite to eat. It's also home to the relatively new North Carolina Community Sailing & Rowing, which offers youth and adult lessons (www.nccsailrowing.org.)

Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics Center is a state-of-the-art facility with an indoor pool for swimming classes, an indoor pool for competitions and an outdoor family fun pool. The facility also includes a gymnasium, meeting room for 300 people and a diving platform. The center hosted the 2004 World Cup Diving Trials, which featured a number of Olympic hopefuls.

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve in Huntersville is located on Mountain Island Lake, a smaller lake just downstream from Lake Norman. The 1,343-acre preserve features 16 miles of hiking/equestrian trails, picnic areas, playgrounds and two canoe/kayak landing areas, as well as Carolina Raptor Center and historic Latta Plantation.

Also in Huntersville, North Mecklenburg Park offers 98 acres that include ball fields, mountain biking trails, playground, basketball courts and picnic areas.

In Davidson, Fisher Farm Park covers 200 acres and features four miles of mountain biking trails ranging from beginner to advanced, hiking trails and a variety of wildlife. It's accessible from the north by the West Branch Greenway.

South of the Lake Norman area, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is a world-class park that occupies 300 acres along the Catawba River. Modeled after the Olympic facility in Sydney, Australia, the center includes a customized whitewater river with adjustable rapids ideal for training and hosting whitewater events. Additionally, the park provides opportunities for flat-water boating, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and swift-water rescue training. Located near the I-85/I-485 interchange, the park also offers a 37-acre island for primitive camping.

LOCAL PARKS

Bailey Road Park
11536 Bailey Road, Cornelius
704-896-2460
www.corneliuspr.org/townofcorneliusparks.html

Blythe Landing
15901 N.C. Hwy. 73, Huntersville
704-432-1369
www.parkandrec.com

Fisher Farm Park
21215 Shearer Road, Davidson
704-892-3349
www.ci.davidson.nc.us

Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics Center
11725 Verhoeff Drive, Huntersville
704-766-2222
www.hffa.com

Jetton Park
19000 Jetton Road, Cornelius
704-432-1369
www.parkandrec.com

Lake Norman State Park
159 Inland Sea Lane, Troutman
704-528-6350
www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/lano/main.php

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
6211 Sample Road, Huntersville
704-875-1391
www.parkandrec.com

North Mecklenburg Park
16131 Old Statesville Road, Huntersville
704-766-2220
www.huntersville.org/parksrec_2.asp

Ramsey Creek Park
18441 Nantz Road, Cornelius
704-432-1369
www.parkandrec.com

U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte
704-391-3900
www.usnwc.org

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