Presented by Xylem

The Thursday Evening Paddle Series sponsored by Xylem is hosted Thursdays in April, May, and June. We’ll explore various public access areas along the Catawba and South Fork Rivers while featuring a guest speaker who will share interesting facts and stories about the area and about their connection to the water. These early evening programs are great for date nights, happy hour with friends, or a fun family adventure!  

We’ll launch and return from the same site. You may rent a kayak and associated gear from Catawba Riverkeeper of bring your own kayaking equipment. Participants must be 12 years of age and accompanied by an adult if under 18. Cost is $30 per person.

Dates & Locations

All paddles are from 6-7:30 PM.

April 21 - Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park - Belmont, NC

Visit The City of Belmont’s riverfront park, Kevin Loftin Park for this evening’s paddle on the Catawba River! This park offers walking trails, a playground, picnic shelters and kayak launch and fishing pier. The kayak launch is ADA accessible, and we welcome those who are wheelchair kayakers. Kevin Loftin Park is also home to our annual RiverFest community festival hosted on May 14.  We will leave out of the shallow cove and paddle across the river along Wilkinson Blvd. to the shoreline of ISWA Nature Preserve and travel down to the train bridge where we will observe the remains of the old bridge that were washed out in the great flood of 1916. We will also observe Osprey and Heron nests before returning to the dock. Our guest speaker will be Rob Nelson, a Scientist, Biologist, and film maker with a YouTube Channel and various segments on networks like the Discovery Channel.

April 28 - Lake Norman State Park - Troutman, NC

Explore the largest manmade lake in North Carolina – Lake Norman! This lake is fed by the Catawba River and drains into Mountain Island Lake where it supplies drinking water to the Charlotte region. We’ll access this “inland sea” through Lake Norman State Park which offers 30+ miles of trails, a swimming beach, campground and a visitor center that hosts educational programs throughout the year, and of course access to the water for paddling, motor boating and fishing. Park Ranger Frances Bozak will be our guest speaker who will present historic maps of Lake Norman and provide historical context of the area.

May 5 - Lucia Access Area/Mountain Island Lake - Stanley, NC

Come paddle the source of the Charlotte region’s drinking water – Mountain Island Lake! We’ll launch from Lucia Access and explore a narrow paddle trail through a beautiful Lilypad pond that will lead us to the main channel. As long as time permits, we will paddle across the main channel to duck cove where guest speaker Tom Hanchet will discuss the history of the Catawba River and how it was utilized to support the communities of our Basin.

May 19 - Spider Lilies/Landsford Canal State Park - Catawba, SC

Paddle near the largest stand of the rocky shoals spider lily in the world! We’ll start our adventure at Landsford Canal State Park in Lancaster, SC. This park is home to well-preserved remains of the canal system that made the river commercially navigable in the 1800s. The spider lilies usually bloom between mid-May and early June. We’ll paddle just upstream from the spider lily stand and around an island where the group will gather to hear from guest speaker and long-time paddler Dennis Huntely who will talk about the history of Landsford Canal and paddling throughout the region since the 1970s.

May 26 - Stumpy Pond - Heath Springs, SC

Visit one of the most southern sections of the Catawba River in Great Falls, SC!  We’ll meet at Stumpy Pond Access where we’ll set off towards where the Great Falls river channels that pour into the reservoir. The pond is virtually undeveloped in this area and wildlife flourishes. This is one of the best areas in our basin for bird watching. Guest speaker and local long-time resident, Mike Vaughn, will discuss the history of the area and various opportunities for recreation.

June 2 - The Boathouse - McAdenville, NC

Join the Catawba Riverkeeper for an evening along the South Fork River which is the largest tributary of the Catawba River. We will meet and launch from The Boathouse, the Riverkeeper’s outfitter, and paddle up river to a set of shoals we refer to as Chrysler Shoals because of the Chrysler Town and Country sunk in the river at the top. We will play around a bit in the currents and then gather for a discussion with our guest speaker Alexander Brooks, the Education Manager at the Gaston County Museum, who will be about the rich history of the South Fork River and surrounding mill towns who depended on it.

June 9 - Outdoor Classroom - Fort Lawn, SC

Check out the Riverkeeper’s newest location in the Southern Basin! Located in Fort Lawn, SC, we’ll meet at the new Outdoor Classroom site and launch onto the Catawba River with guest speaker Rachael Rosenstein, the Watershed Manager for the Southern Basin and staff scientist of the Catawba Riverkeeper. This 5-acre property is home to our new South Carolina welcome center and outdoor classroom with an interpretive trail, a picnic shelter, and wetland area. We will then travel upriver and explore around an island and up the confluence of Cane Creek, as time permits.