The Catawba River begins in the foothills of North Carolina and flows for more than 200 miles through the Piedmont of North Carolina. Beginning in 1904, a series of hydroelectric dams were constructed to harness the power of the river to provide electricity for the region. The 30-mile stretch of the Catawba River between Wylie Hydro and the upper end of Fishing Creek Lake is now the longest portion of the Catawba River that remains undammed.
Much of the land bordering this portion of the Catawba River remains wooded and natural. While access to the river has improved and will continue to do so, there are still many sections of the river that are remote and difficult to access. This characteristic makes the South Carolina Catawba River a haven for wildlife of all sorts.
In addition to being rich in wildlife, the South Carolina Catawba River is also rich in history. The river has provided for the people of the Catawba River Valley for more than 12,000 years. Beginning with the ancestors of the modern-day Catawba Indian Nation, through the first European explorers and early settlers, to those who continue to flock to the region today because of the quality of life, all have left their mark on the river. This canoe trail brochure provides a glimpse into this history. Boaters should note that only those access points identified in this trail map brochure are public. Other access points that you may see from the river are privately owned.