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boardwalk by the water at Lake Norman State Park at sunset

Renowned for its 30.5-mile Itusi mountain biking trail system, Lake Norman State Park is located 40 miles north of Charlotte, in Iredell County. Home to Lake Norman, the most expansive manmade body of water in the state with a surface area of 32,510 acres when filled to capacity, this 1,942-acre North Carolina state park sprawls along 17 miles of the lake’s shoreline and also features a secondary lake (Park Lake) and two islands, where herons and other winged wildlife call home.

Established in 1962, Lake Norman State Park offers visitors a host of land and water activities all year long; there are also plentiful amenities, including a campground, a visitor center, a bathhouse, restrooms, picnic shelters, boat rentals, swimming areas, and a concession stand.

Activities

Aquatic and terrestrial activities abound at Lake Norman State Park, where visitors can enjoy extensive mountain biking trails as well as trail hiking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, camping, bird-watching, fishing, boating, and swimming.

Boating and Swimming at Lake Norman State Park

Boating is permitted on Lake Norman; there is a no-wake zone within 150’ of boat ramps, docks, bridges, and marinas, and within 100’ of any law-enforcement vessel with its blue lights activated. Pedal boats, paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes can also be rented seasonally within the park on a first-come, first-served basis.

Visitors wishing to swim in the park must purchase a pass; click here for more information. Annual passes for swimming and boat rentals are also available.

boat docks at Lake Norman State Park

Mountain Biking at Lake Norman State Park

Lake Norman State Park is home to Iredell County’s popular Itusi Trail, offering 30.5 miles of single-track mountain biking. Itusi is actually made up of 8 well-marked loops of varying length and ranging in difficulty from easy to moderate.

Every other year the park reverses the direction for the bike trails; take note of updated signage, and check the state park website for trail closures due to poor weather or maintenance.

Here are some of the Itusi bike trails at Lake Norman State Park:

  • Hicks Creek Loop: Easy, 1-mile loop trail with a 184’ elevation gain; well-shaded and scenic.
  • Hawk Loop: Easy/moderate, 3-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 173’ that offers some water views and a fair amount of technical aspects.
  • Laurel Loop: Moderate, 9.75-mile loop trail with a 748’ elevation gain; offers lots of sharp turns and dips.

the visitor center at Lake Norman State Park

Hiking at Lake Norman State Park

Offering 6 hiking-only as well as 8 multi-use trails, Lake Norman State Park provides 38 miles of routes ranging from easy to moderate; be sure to check the park’s website to confirm which trails are open, as there are frequent weather-related or maintenance closures. Some of the sights you can expect to encounter along the trails include views of Lake Norman and a variety of wildlife.

Here are some of the more popular hiking trails at Lake Norman State Park:

  • Alder Trail: Easy, .8-mile loop trail (hiking only) with a 49’ elevation gain; meanders through trees and along the lakeshore.
  • Norwood Creek Loop: Easy/moderate, 2.5-mile loop trail (multi-use) with a 180’ elevation gain; includes several hills and beautiful views of the lake and its inlets.
  • Laurel, Wildlife, and Fox Loops: Moderate, 15.4-mile loop trail with a 1,135’ elevation gain and lake views.

hiking trail through the trees at Lake Norman State Park

Fishing at Lake Norman State Park

Fishing is permitted in Lake Norman State Park’s water features, including Lake Norman and Park Lake. State fishing licenses are required, and all North Carolina regulations for size, creel, and fishing seasons must be followed.

Depending on the season, some of the fish that can be caught in the park include yellow perch, black crappie, bluegill, striped bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and white bass.

Nature & Wildlife at Lake Norman State Park

Featuring manmade shelters for ospreys and kingfishers as well as natural great blue heron rookeries, Lake Norman State Park is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Park sightings include species such as the indigo bunting, cedar waxwing, woodcock, yellow-breasted chat, belted kingfisher, green heron, black swan, and bald eagle, among many others.

Other wildlife in the park include black bears, raccoons, deer, flying squirrels, and foxes; visitors are warned to be on the lookout for poisonous copperhead snakes.

Pets

Dogs are welcome in the state park—as long as they are leashed to within 6’ and are under control at all times. Pets are not allowed on swimming beaches or inside buildings.

Camping

Featuring 44 paved campsites, 10 of which have full hookups (30- and 50-amp service) and two of which are handicapped accessible, the Lake Norman State Park campground also has 6 cabins available to rent, each of which can accommodate up to 6 people.

Cabin amenities include electricity, heat/air conditioning, and parking for two vehicles; no linens are provided. Pets are permitted in the campground (not in the cabins) and are subject to all of the state park’s pet rules. All sites feature fire pits and picnic tables and are close to fresh water and the bathhouse, where hot showers are available.

Park Location

Lake Norman State Park
759 State Park Road
Troutman, NC 28166
Phone: 704.528.6350

Park Website
Reservations

Map

Video

Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Lake Norman State Park: