New Canoe and Kayak Access Point on South Fork

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A new access point on the South Fork of the Catawba makes it easier for novice paddlers to gain access to the beauty of the South Fork.

The Catawba Lands Conservancy opened a new canoe and kayak access point on the South Fork of the Catawa in May 2009.  The trip down to the R.Y. McAden River Access take out point is approximately 2 hours, 5.5 miles. River stream features vary from slow moving water with intermittent rapids here rock ledges have been carved from the river bottom to concentrated rapids at approximate mile 3.5. At times scouting may be needed to determine the best route. There is a dam approximately 5.5 miles down the river - users must exit the river on the right (river right) before the dam.  Be aware that the take-out at the McAddenville dam is steep and slippery.  Some paddlers have reported difficulty in getting their boat out of the river.

NOTE:  Effective in August 2012, an access code and parking pass are sometimes necessary to use the parking area.  The access code and parking pass can be obtained from the Catawba Lands Conservancy (which is a different organization from the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation).  Those interested in using the canoe/kayak launch should first call 704-342-3330, ext. 208 or 209, to request a user pass. The new user pass system consists of a sign to display on a vehicle dashboard and a combination code for the gate. On the voicemail, individuals must leave their name, telephone number and an email address. A CLC staff member will return the telephone call and provide more detailed instructions on the pass system.


Parking for this entrance needs to be done ONLY in the designated area, or be towed at the owners expense. 


Approximate physical address— 282 Stanley Spencer Mountain Road, Spencer Mountain, NC 28056


Take I-85 South to exit 23 – Lowell/ McAdenville/Hwy 7. Turn RIGHT at the stoplight onto Hwy 7 –towards Lowell and proceed .6 miles. Turn RIGHTat the next stoplight onto Main St. (Citgo gas station on corner). Proceed 3.2 miles, at the T-intersection

turn RIGHT onto Stanley-Spencer Mountain Rd.

Travel .1 mile, you will cross a bridge, just as the bridge ends, the entrance to Spencer Mtn. River

Access will be on your RIGHT.


Head north on NC-279/S New Hope Rd.

Turn RIGHT on NC-7/E Ozark Ave and travel 0.8 mile.

Turn LEFT on Spencer Mountain Rd and travel 1.7 miles.

Continue on Ranlo Spencer Mtn Rd for 0.8 mile.

Turn RIGHT on Dallas Spencer Mtn Rd/Main St/NC-2003 for 0.3 mile.

Continue on Stanley-Spencer Mtn Rd for 0.2 mile.

Travel .1 miles, you will cross a bridge, just as the bridge ends, the entrance to Spencer Mtn. River Access will be on your RIGHT.


Approximate physical address— 149 Willow Dr, Gastonia, NC 28056

Turn LEFT on Stanley-Spencer Mtn Rd - 0.2 mile. Turn LEFT on Lowell Spencer Mtn Rd/NC-2201, proceed 3.3 miles. Turn LEFT at traffic signal (Citgo gas station on corner) on McAdenville Rd/NC-7, proceed 1 mile. Turn LEFT at Dickson Rd - you will see a sign that reads “Proceed slowly, automatic gate ahead.” Continue straight. Less than one tenth of mile further, Dickson Rd. turns left; do not turn. Proceed through a right-hand curve onto Willow Dr. The entrance to the R.Y. MacAden River Access is just beyond the green wooden building. Signs will direct you to the river access point.



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