Lake James State Park introduces boat-in camping experience

Boat-in campsites at Lake James provide a new mountain lake experience.
Boat-in campsites at Lake James State Park  provide a new mountain lake experience.

Lake James State Park in Burke County has introduced a new mountain lake experience, having just opened a boat-in camping complex at its Paddy’s Creek Area.

The facility has 30 campsites that can be reached only by boats, canoes or kayaks at three separate spots on the tip of the Long Arm peninsula, less than one mile northeast of the park’s swim beach. The reservation-only campsites are furnished with picnic tables, fire pits, tent pads and stunning views of the 6,812-acre lake.

The campground was constructed entirely by staff at Lake James State Park and from nearby state parks over the past year. The $173,000 project was funded in part by Friends of Lake James State Park and a grant from the Rostan Family Foundation. The project includes an unpaved access road along the length of the peninsula that aids in security for the campground and that will allow further park development in other areas of the peninsula.

“This camping complex is part of an exciting and expanding menu of outdoor activities at Lake James, and although it’s a premium recreation option, it was created at low cost thanks to the dedication of our maintenance personnel and rangers,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “The state park also owes much of its growth and success to strong community support.”

Much of the lake shoreline is steep but there are scattered beach areas perfect for landing boats, kayaks and canoes.
Much of the lake shoreline is steep but there are scattered beach areas perfect for landing boats, kayaks and canoes.

Lake James State Park opened a 15-mile network of mountain biking trails in mid-2014. Park staff assisted in that project and also built the award-winning Holly Discovery Trail for kids. The park expects to begin construction this summer on a traditional family campground with drive-to campsites at Paddy’s Creek. The park’s Catawba River Area nearby has a 20-site campground.

The boat-in camping complex has no dock, but boaters will find gentle beach areas for docking. For kayakers and canoeists, the campsites are an easy paddle from the bathhouse, and the location offers quiet coves for exploration. The sites have access to vault toilets, but no water is provided at the campground, and all trash must be carried out. Campers must have reservations, which can be made through the Central Reservations System or at the park office as late as the evening of the campout if a site is available. Campers can park at the bathhouse area (if paddling to the sites) or at Canal Bridge Access or Linville Access boat ramps.

The new amenities augment a swim beach, bathhouse, picnic area and foot trails that have been opened at the park’s Paddy’s Creek Area since 2010. The newly developed access is on 2,915 acres acquired in 2004 from Crescent Resources Inc.

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