The mountain bike trails and the State Park sections of the Fonta Flora State Trail are OPEN today, October 24.
Be advised that the direction of Tindo and Wimba trails has changed as of October 1. The Tindo Trail is going in a counterclockwise direction, and the Wimba Trail is going in a clockwise direction. Ignoring closures will cause permanent damage to the trail system and could lead to a citation and fine. Your cooperation ensures we can keep the trail system healthy and functioning for YOUR benefit and safety.
For information about Burke County portions of the Fonta Flora State Trail, please visit their website at https://www.burkenc.org/1258/Fonta-Flora-State-Trail.
If the time stamp on this alert is more than 24 hours old, please feel free to call the park office at 828-584-7728 for the most up-to-date information.Last updated on: Sunday, October 24, 2021
As of August 20, 2021, face masks are required inside facilities at state parks regardless of vaccination status.
Unless otherwise indicated, all campgrounds, trails, picnic areas, boat ramps, fishing piers, and restrooms are open. Please maintain a social distance of six feet, regardless of the behavior of others.
The Paddy’s Creek Swim Area is closed for the season. It will reopen May 1, 2022. The concession stand and boat rental concession are also closed for the season and will open sometime in May 2022
Picnic shelters are available for reservations or casual use on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact the park office for information on how to make reservations.
The Catawba River park office and gift shop is open Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. The Paddy's Creek park office and gift shop is open Wednesday through Sunday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. Hours are subject to change on short notice.
Groups larger than 200 people are not permitted. When park rangers feel that the park has reached a safe capacity, the entrance gates may be closed. Entry and/or re-entry to the park is not guaranteed, except for campground reservation holders.
**The information on this alert is the current status of the park. This alert is updated only when the status changes.**Last updated on: Wednesday, October 20, 2021
A scammer has been advertising an Octoberfest event at the Paddy's Creek Access for October 23-24. There is no such festival taking place at Lake James State Park.
Please contact the park office at 828-584-7728 or email@example.com with any questions.Last updated on: Monday, October 4, 2021
Contact the park
Paddy's Creek access
7321 N.C. 126
Nebo, NC 28761
GPS: 35.7503, -81.8920
Catawba River access
and park office
2785 N.C. 126
Nebo, NC 28761
GPS: 35.7287, -81.9011
P.O Box 340
Nebo, NC 28761
Hidden Cove boat ramp
3381 N.C. 126
Nebo, NC 28761
GPS: 35.7301, -81.8908
Canal Bridge boat ramp
9182 N.C. 126
Nebo, NC 28761
GPS: 35.7394, -81.8863
- December to February:
7:00am to 7:00pm
- March to April:
7:00am to 9:00pm
- May to September:
7:00am to 10:00pm
7:00am to 9:00pm
7:00am to 8:00pm
- Closed Christmas Day
- open year-round
- 24-hour access
- May 1 to September 30:
10:00am to 6:00pm
Catawba River office
- Monday to Friday:
8:00am to 4:30pm
Paddy's Creek office
- Wednsday to Sunday:
9:00am to 5:30pm
Things to do
Hiking and Biking
The park is a great place for a hike! See the Trails page for more information.
⇒ ATTENTION: BIKE TRAIL USERS
When trails are closed for construction, poor trail conditions due to weather or any other reason, they are closed both for visitor safety AND for the protection of the trail and natural resources. Trails are expensive to construct, maintain and repair. Disregarding trail closures results in:
- Delaying or proloning construction or repair;
- Damaging the trails, resulting in significant costs and further closure time for additional repair;
- Endangering yourself in addition to both state park and EMS staff who would work to get you out of harm's way if you are lost or hurt.
Thank you for respecting our park's natural resources, facilities and fellow park visitors.
Two boat ramps, Hidden Cove and Canal Bridge, offer access to Lake James where power boats, sailboats and smaller craft have ample room to enjoy the water. Both boat ramps are located along NC 126 within two miles east of the park entrance. Hidden Cove operates according to park hours and must be vacated by closing time. Canal Bridge is open 24 hours.
Canoes and kayaks are available for rent from the park. See Fees/FAQs/Rules for more information.
Nearby, a number of other launching sites and marinas offer boats and motors for rent. Fishing tackle, bait, ice and snacks are also available.
Swimming is permitted in the Paddy's Creek Area only within the designated swimming area. Swimmers must remain inside the swim line. The swimming area is open May 1 through September 30, 10am –6pm, every day. A fee is in effect when lifeguards are on duty. Swimming is free of charge when there are no lifeguards on duty. See Fees/FAQs/Rules for more information.
The cool mountain waters of the Linville and Catawba rivers flow into hilly terrain to form a deep lake with enough points and coves to challenge any fisherman. Water level fluctuation, due to hydroelectric power production, keeps aquatic vegetation at a minimum and concentrates fish populations, especially in winter. Cool, deep waters, reaching as much as 120 feet, and warm surface climes provide a variety of sport fishing options.
The Largemouth bass is arguably the most sought-after fish in the lake. Early morning and late afternoon hours from April through October are the best times to seek this tackle-buster and its bronzy relative, the smallmouth bass. Quiet coves with submerged stumps and logs, rocky points and steep, overhanging banks are ideal places to try your luck. Walleye, first introduced to the lake in 1951, is another prized gamefish. Normally associated with coldwater lakes of the upper Midwest and Canada, this tasty fish is most readily caught in deep waters during the same season as bass. Walleye can also be successfully pursued in shallower waters at night.
White bass spawn in May, and the best fishing for this species is typically from 6-7 a.m. along the banks or from anchored boats along the ancient river channels. During the summer, schooling whites are often seen corralling shad at the surface and become susceptible to topwater lures. Crappie fishing is best during May through July, in the early morning and at night. Bluegill and redbreast sunfish are available year-round and are most active during the morning hours in shallow coves with lots of submerged stumps and logs. The cleanest, tastiest catfish anywhere are found in the lake all year long. Fish for them in the evening along gently sloping underwater shelves and the mouths of slow-moving streams as they enter the lake. The North Carolina state record white catfish—13 pounds—was caught at Lake James in 1990.
Another popular gamefish is the mighty muskellunge. Record specimens have been caught in Lake James, including the state record tiger muskie—a whopping 33-pound, 8-ounce brute that took a buzzbait in 1988. Other fish you might catch include carp and perch. A fishing license is required. All Wildlife Resources Commission regulations apply.
You bring the food and we'll supply the atmosphere. There are picnic areas available on a first-come, first-served basis at both the Catawba River and Paddy's Creek areas of Lake James State Park. Picnic sites include tables, outdoor grills and trash and recycling receptacles. Drinking water and restrooms are located within a short walk of all picnic sites. Three large picnic shelters with 10-12 tables each are available for groups. The shelters are available by reservation.