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Lake Norman (Upper)

As an overview Upper Lake Norman is the biggest Lake in the State of North Carolina with over 520 miles of shoreline and 32,475 acres.

Due to the massive size of the Lake many local residents break the lake down into “Upper” and “Lower” Lake Norman. Upper Lake Norman is typically defined as properties on the North side of Hwy 150 which runs east to west roughly over the middle part of the lake.  It has a beautiful state park, is much quieter than the rest of the lake offering less waves and more isolated coves to explore, but it also has the dining and marina options coveted by all.

A lot of folks when thinking of Lake Norman think of the 40 ft cabin cruisers, multi million dollar mansions, and a busy lake. While all of that is great it is simply not for everybody upper Lake Norman is able to offer a much different vibe. Being further from the metropolis of Charlotte the upper part of the lake features a far more laid back life style and less lake traffic. The hwy bridges crossing the lake to the keep the sailboats and huge cabin cruisers from being able to access the upper parts and thus keeping it a little more protected.

One of my personal favorite parts of Upper Lake Norman are the waterfront Dining options.

Just being able to hop in your boat and visit your favorite restaurant for dinner and drinks is a great way to spend a Friday evening. Upper Lake Norman has some great options for this. One of my favorites is The Landing restaurant which features a lake side volleyball court, a live music stage and arcade for the kids. Unlike some of the other restaurants where the dock fills up and the party is limited to a certain size the owner of this restaurant employs the “tiki party boat” to allow you to anchor your boat in the cove and they come pick you up. It adds a nice little wrinkle and ensures you can enjoy the shore side fun at anytime. Another favorite Upper Lake Norman restaurant I love is the Blue Parrot. Some great island inspired cocktails really set the mood and go great with the menu which includes everything from bar food to Sizzling Steaks.

One of everybody’s favorite parts of Upper Lake Norman is the Lake Norman State park. The park is a wonderful feature for nature lovers, hikers, mountain bikers, beach lovers, and property owners anywhere on the lake. 

The nature trail system features 3 different trails that introduce you to different areas of the park. 

The Alder Trail is a 0.8-mile loop that begins at Park Lake near the main entrance of the Park. This trail passes through the picnic area and circles the peninsula between Norwood and Hicks Creeks near Park Lake. This trail is my favorite mostly because it is short but also gives you plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities in different environments from woodlands to Lakefront, to Marshy Wetlands.

Lake Shore Trail is a 5-mile (8.0 km) trail on the shore of Lake Norman. This is certainly the most beautiful trail with almost the entire trail being lakefront.

Itusi Trail is a 10.5-mile (16.9 km) mountain biking trail designed, built and maintained by the Tar Heel Trailblazers, a Charlotte based mountain biking club. I personally have never been on this trail but have been told that it can be very challenging with a mostly woodlands environment but also some spectacular Lake Vistas.

Wildlife Viewing

It’s almost impossible to drive or take a walk through the park and not see at least one White Tailed deer but there are many other native North Carolina Piedmont species found throughout the park. The more common mammals of the park are opossum, White-tailed deer, red and gray foxes, rabbits, muskrats, raccoons, and gray squirrels. Amphibians and reptiles can also be found on the shores of Lake Norman and in the woods of Lake Norman State Park. The most common amphibians are a variety of frogs. A variety of snakes and turtles can also be seen at the park. Birds commonly seen at the park include, Carolina chickadees, pine warblers, Red-tailed Hawks, Wild Turkey, osprey, mallards, geese, and herons.

Upper Lake Norman State Park Beach

The beach is a great place for meeting friends or just enjoying the sun. The 125 yard long beach is often packed on the weekends in the summer and gives boaters a great place to go and socialize with others or stop for a picnic and swim. The boat docks near the beach are free for public use and also a great place to stop for a bathroom break when out on the lake.


Public Access Areas

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