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Lake James

Lake James is named for James B. Duke, one of the founders of Duke Energy.

Built over a seven-year period beginning in 1916, Lake James required the construction of three dams: Linville, Paddy Creek and Catawba. Linville Dam is 160 feet high and 1,325 feet long. Paddy Creek Dam is 165 feet high and 1,610 feet long. Catawba Dam is 150 feet high and 3,155 feet long. Care should be exercised in the vicinity of these dams.

The lake straddles the McDowell-Burke county line. Lake James has a surface area of approximately 6,812 acres, with 150 miles of shoreline. Full pond elevation is 1,200 feet.

Duke Energy provides four public boat access areas on the lake and one fishing and canoe access point below the hydroelectric station. Lake James State Park also provides public recreation opportunities. Two boat access points are leased to the State Park and the other two, as well as the tailrace fishing and canoe access point, are provided in cooperation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

Public Access Areas

  • Black Bear Access Area
  • Linville Access Area
  • Bridgewater Fishing Area and proposed Canoe Portage
  • Canal Bridge Access Area 1-828-652-5047 (Leased to N.C. State Parks)
  • Hidden Cove Access Area 1-828-652-5047 (Leased to N.C. State Parks)
  • Lake James State Park 1-828-652-5047
  • Mountain Harbour Marina 1-828-584-0666

Lake James Map

Black Bear Access Area Black Bear Access Area Parking Launching Ramp Handicap Accessible


Lake James Map

Linville Access Area Linville Access Area Parking Launching Ramp


Lake James Map

Bridgewater Fishing Area Bridgewater Fishing Area and Proposed Canoe Portage
Parking Fishing Canoe Rental Handicap Accessible


Lake James Map

Canal Bridge Access Area Canal Bridge Access Area Parking Launching Ramp Handicap Accessible
(Leased to N.C. State Parks)
Hidden Cove Access Area Hidden Cove Access Area Parking Launching Ramp
(Leased to N.C. State Parks)
Lake James State Park Lake James State Park Parking Campground
Swimming Fishing Trailer Sites Handicap Accessible Picnic Area Telephone Picnic Shelter Restrooms
Mountain Harbour Marina Mountain Harbour Marina Parking Gas Station Grocery Store Pumpout Station Restrooms

View Access Area Legend