Kayaking Piedmont Lakes
The early morning mist rises from the still water like an incense-aided prayer. Dragonflies hover, frozen for a moment in the golden shafts of light. Your kayak glides effortlessly across the mirror-like surface, leaving the cares and worries of the shoreline somewhere in its wake.
Welcome to the simple joys of lake kayaking, North Carolina style.
If whitewater kayaking is wild electric guitar riffs and sea kayaking is new age jazz, then the music of lake kayaking is soothing classical. And few places on earth offer lovelier spots to enjoy the symphony than the North Carolina Piedmont.
Some of the freshwater lakes here are so spacious that paddling their entire length could literally take you a week or more. Others are easily explored in the course of a day.
At Mountain Island Lake near Charlotte, for example, you can glide across some of the purest, most pellucid water in the state – this lake provides drinking water for over 500,000 people – and feel like you’re journeying back in time. Back to the days of birchbark canoes. Here, ospreys dive from their lofty perches to scoop up an unsuspecting striped bass for breakfast; small flotillas of grebes and teals plunge underwater at your approach, only to pop up elsewhere like playful loons; a wild turkey calls to a prospective mate in the ancient Piedmont forest. Even an occasional bald eagle wheels overhead.On other parts of the lake, you can float past spacious mansions with fancy boat slips or fishing cabins with weatherbeaten pickup trucks parked outside.Each lake, of course, offers its own unique look and feel. Badin Lake and Lake Tillery, for example, which skirt the edge of the Uwharrie Forest, have spots on them that have the flavor of a secluded mountain lake. Some places on Lake Norman or Lake Wylie, on the other hand, feel like elegant yacht clubs. (Famous NFL, NBA and NASCAR stars have built homes here.)
added: December 23, 2008
updated: June 19, 2009