North Carolina Heartland Outdoors

Water Sports and Fishing
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Two stock cars make a pit stop at a Heartland motor speedway
Make a pit stop in the Heartland

Water Sports
If you'd rather float than fish, Badin Lake in Uwharrie National Forest makes a great destination for a little R&R. This classic summer getaway offers warm water, laid-back neighbors, and a beautiful forest backdrop—perfect for cruising the lake on a jet ski, taking a swim, or just lounging in the sun. Set up camp on a houseboat, sailboat, or cabin cruiser, or enjoy lakeside camping on the shores of the national forest.

On the opposite end of the water-sports spectrum is a whitewater run down the Uwharrie River, which takes in the best of the Uwharrie National Forest and the Uwharrie Mountains. Timing is essential on the Uwharrie: A dry spell may require you to portage your boat, while a sudden storm can cause flash flooding. Expect Class I-II rapids during normal water levels. Try an overnight run—camping is allowed on the national forest land bordering the water—from just below Lassiter's Mill to the intersection of the Uwharrie with the Pee Dee River.

Just minutes from Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, the Neuse River winds past whitetail deer and wood ducks in their natural habitats—not to mention bald eagles, horned owls, and river otters. Experts and beginners alike can pilot a canoe or kayak on an easy, three-hour trip from the Broadhurst Bridge on Hwy 111 to the town of Seven Springs, with a great view of the cliffs in Neuse State Park.

While visiting the Triangle area, you may want to tour the capital building, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, or the North Carolina Botanical Garden, in Chapel Hill.

Lake Norman, the 34-mile-long "inland sea" just 15 minutes north of Charlotte, is a veritable freshwater fisherman's paradise. Cast your line for an abundance of catfish, crappie, yellow perch, white bass, striped bass (rock fish), and largemouth bass. Located right on the Virginia border, Lake Gaston offers a similar piscatorial bounty. Its clean waters are well stocked with a variety of game fish, including striped bass, largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and several kinds of catfish.

For angling action within the Uwharrie National Forest, Badin Lake is a great spot for catfish, bream, largemouth, and white and striped bass, while the Uwharrie River adds smallmouth and pickerel. Adventurous anglers looking to avoid the crowds should make their way to the river's narrow and rocky upper reaches, where the water cuts its way into the Uwharrie Mountains.

If the fish aren't biting, get your thrills with a trip east to the North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. Stock-car fans can catch NASCAR, Busch Series, and Winston Cup races. In nearby Concord, about midway between Lake Norman and Lake Badin, lies the famous Lowe's Motor Speedway. This "Mecca of Motorsports" plays host to five NASCAR events each year.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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