Lake Norman Boating Notice
Lake Norman water levels that causes access ramps to closed because they are not safe or unusable.
- Long Island Access Area – 91.0 or 9.0′ below full pond
- Stumpy Creek Access Area – 91.0 or 9.0′ below full pond
- Pinnacle Access Area – 91.5 or 8.5′ below full pond
- McCrary Creek Access Area – 91.5 or 8.5′ below full pond
- Hagars Creek Access Area – 91.5 or 8.5′ below full pond
- Little Creek Access Area – 93.0 or 7.0′ below full pond
- Beatties Ford Access Area – 91.0 or 9.0′ below full pond
- Blythe Landing – 95.0 or 5.0′ below full pond
- Ramsey Creek Park – 96.0 or 4.0′ below full pond
Lake Norman Safety
Each year the winter draw down of Lake Norman’s water level exposes serious hazards to navigation, including rocks, stumps, humps, sandbars, etc. As the lake fills, shallow water covers many of these perilous areas during the summer. Danger spots are everywhere. Some are identified by channel/shoal markers and buoys, but many are not. “Boater beware” should always be on your mind when navigating in unfamiliar waters. A quality lake map, GPS, and a good depth finder are necessary for safe boating experiences. The following are specific locations and types of conditions that pose hazardous situations on Lake Norman.
Channel Marker adjacent to Shoal Marker(s): Do NOT pass between the two markers. This is NOT the channel. The markers are identifying the area between as a hazard. On the main river channel there are several such areas. Shoals are located at markers 1A, 2A, 6, 10, and 15A. Shoals also are in proximity to creek channel markers R4, R5, D3, D4, D8, T1, T2, T4 and M1. These areas should be identified as danger zones on your area lake map.
Islands: Most of Lake Norman’s beautiful islands are continuations of adjacent points of land. The water between the point and the island is often very shallow. Therefore, to avoid stumps, rocks and gravel just under the water, it is prudent to maneuver around the outside of the island. Few island passes afford adequate warning information. A good example is the chain of islands on the Denver side of the lake, beginning with Governor’s Island and continuing south toward the point of land near the end of Unity Church Rd. These islands are surrounded by shallow water and numerous hazards.
Shoals: The dictionary defines a shoal as “a shallow place in a body of water”. Lake Norman has too many of them to identify with markers and buoys. One of the lake’s most dangerous shoal areas is south of marker R1. It is dotted with a line of shoal markers, indicating a flooded road bed that was once the northern portion of Beatties Ford Rd. Upriver, multiple shoal markers identify the low water adjacent to marker 15A. This area is particularly dangerous since the shoals are in a high traffic area in a turn on the river channel.
Rocks: Rocks are a boater’s worst underwater enemy. They damage or destroy hundreds of boat propellers annually. Rocks and rock piles are scattered throughout Lake Norman. Most are not identified by signs or markers.
Congested Areas: No-wake areas near marinas, gas docks, yacht clubs and lakeside restaurants are particularly dangerous due to heavy boat traffic. When approaching such areas, all passengers should watch for dangerous passing situations.
Bridges: Pilings obstruct the view of oncoming boat traffic. For this reason, area bridges are considered to be no-wake zones. No wake means NO WAKE. If you can see a wake behind your boat, you are going too fast. Also consider a boat’s vertical clearance when passing beneath a bridge. Bridge clearances change with the water level and with wave and boat wake disturbances.
Catawba River: The river section of Lake Norman from Buffalo Shoals, north to Lookout Shoals Dam, is not marked. During periods of low water levels, portions of the river channel are un-navigable. It is unwise to venture north of Bill’s Marina unless you are in a shallow draft boat and are with someone who is familiar with the channel.
Moving water: Water current poses another set of challenges for an unfamiliar boater. Boaters need to know that water runs almost continuously in the discharge canals at the Marshall and McGuire Power Stations. Strong currents also occur upriver during flood conditions and when water is being discharged from Lookout Shoals Dam.
Protruding Structures: Water intakes and long boat docks are particularly dangerous when navigating at night. These structures are not always lit and might lack reflective devices that make them visible. To avoid a hazardous collision, run at a considerable distance from shore.
Unlit Aids to Navigation and Boats: Not all markers, buoys and boats are properly lit during low light conditions. Navigating at night should be at reduced speeds and with additional people to watch.