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Cool Off at the Lakes 

Everybody likes swimming, boating, skiing, and what have you at the lakes. Trouble is, unless you live there or know someone who lives there, it can be hard to gain access to these great recreation areas. Public access to the three lakes near Charlotte can sometimes be hard to find. Several of the counties administer parks on Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie. Plus there are a number of public boat launch areas provided through Duke Power and a state park on Lake Norman in Iredell County. Here's a list of some of the more accessible places -- but please note this list doesn't include marinas and other commercial/residential neighborhood access.

Lake NormanMecklenburg CountyHours for the Meck County parks are 8am until dark.

Jetton Park19000 Jetton Road



Jetton Park is a 105-acre lakefront park offering a variety of recreational opportunities. There are numerous picnic areas, paved multipurpose trails and bicycle rentals (weekends and holidays only) plus tennis courts and a sunning beach. In addition, the park provides a playground, formal garden, sites for weddings and receptions and a community meeting room/indoor shelter. Entrance fee is $3 for county residents and $5 for non-county residents. Fees apply only on weekends and holidays from March through October. Picnic decks are available through reservations.

Blythe Landing15901 Highway 73



This 26-acre park offers floating piers and boat launching facilities. Fees for launching are $5 per craft for county residents and $8 dollars per craft for non-county residents. Season passes (for launching March-October) are also available for $50. Plus you can eat at the Dockside Cafe or shop for the right lure at the bait and tackle shop. Just don't get the two places mixed up. Other amenities include a playground, picnic areas and sand volleyball courts. Also, two gazebos are now available for event rental.

Ramsey Creek Park18441 Nantz Road



This 46-acre waterfront park features beaches for sunning, a wind-surfer beach, a boat launch area with docks, a new playground, picnic shelters (some covered), nature trails, a store and a fishing pier. Funbrellas are available for rental so you can make your own picnic spot.

Iredell CountyLake Norman State Park159 Inland Sea Lane



Lake Norman State Park was created along with Lake Norman in the mid-1960s. The park, with areas of dense forest and dramatic shoreline, offers a separate (from the lake proper) public swimming area open June through Labor Day complete with bathhouse (10am-6pm). Cost for swimming is $3 for adults or $2 for children. There's a boat launch area for Lake Norman proper plus small boats are for rent for use on the park's lake; canoes or rowboats cost $3 for the first hour and $1 per hour after that and pedal boats cost $4 for the first hour and $2 per half hour. Picnic shelters for larger groups are available for rental for $75 per day plus there are small picnic sites scattered through the park. Also, a new community building is now available for event rental for $125. Other state park amenities include a family campground and a group tent campground. Hours for the summer are 8am-9pm.

Stumpy Creek ParkPerth Church Road, near Mooresville


Stumpy Creek, originally a Duke Power Access Area, has been leased to Iredell County and a new county park is being created. Only the boat access is currently open. The rest of the park is tentatively scheduled to open by fall of 2002. The facility has 1,369 feet of shoreline to stroll. There's a concrete boat ramp, a new loading dock and the paved parking was recently expanded.

Mountain Island Lake

Mecklenburg CountyLatta Plantation Nature Preserve

5225 Sample Road



The heart of this 1,090-acre nature preserve is the restored plantation home of James Latta. The nature preserve also borders on Mountain Island Lake and provides a home for the Carolina Raptor Center (704-875-6521) and the Latta Equestrian Center. Admission to the Raptor Center is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors and students. Tours and other programs are offered at Latta Plantation (875-2312). Other park facilities include an interpretive center with displays, etc., 18 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails (704-875-0808), canoe, kayak and jonboat rentals, picnic areas with shelters, lake overlooks, fishing, and a canoe and kayak launch area. Call for specifics on rentals and fees for horseback riding.

Lake WylieMecklenburg CountyMcDowell Nature Preserve15222 York Road (Hwy 49)


This nature preserve on the shores of Lake Wylie covers 956 acres of rolling terrain, hardwood forest and streams. The McDowell Nature Center offers interpretive displays and environmental programming. Nature preserve amenities include picnic areas with shelters and decks, a corporate shelter, hiking trails, canoe and paddle boat rentals, fishing and motorboat launching at Copperhead Island, 15200 Soldier Road. Plus there are year round camping facilities, which accommodate everything from primitive camping to motorhomes. Entrance fees are $3 for county residents and $5 for non-county residents. For camping, call 803-831-2285. Camping/event registration must be done seven business days in advance.

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