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Catawba canoe and Kayak trail

Middle Catawba Canoe
and Kayak Trail Coming

by Joyce Deaton

Piedmont paddlers will soon be able to travel and camp along the Middle Catawba Canoe and Kayak Trail if current efforts to build and map the trail are successful.

H.C. "Woody" Woodward, recreation supervisor in the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department's Division of Natural Resources and Outdoor Education, has been working on the project for more than a year. So far, he's researched similar trails and guides for the Yadkin, Broad and Roanoke rivers and has met with dozens of stakeholders along this section of the Catawba.

"Phase one was to talk it up and get people interested," says Woodward. "The next phase is to pull together a group of knowledgeable people and look at what we can do to put the trail together. I'm meeting with people from Statesville to Lake Wylie to see who's willing to work on the idea."

The trail's exact route is not final, but it will follow the eastern part of the Catawba from Lookout Shoals north of I-40 to the Lake Wylie Dam. Included on the tCanoe and Kayak trailrail will be camping spots at Lake Norman State Park , Latta Plantation, Sadler Island near the planned U.S. National Whitewater Center near Mt. Holly , and Copperhead Island at McDowell State Park . "We'll be working to find put-in and take-out points and portages and setting up trail markers," he says. "One of our major challenges is mapping portages around the Cowan's Ford and Mountain Island dams."

Securing funding is also a hurdle. With Duke Power's imminent relicensing application through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, there's an opportunity for Duke to contribute through its settlement fund that includes contributions for recreational resources. Woodward's group will also go after other funds from state and local government agencies, nonprofit environmental groups and philanthropic organizations. "We've met with the FERC relicensing people to let them know what we're planning," Woodward says. "Duke has pitched in to help with the Upper Catawba trail, and we hope the company will continue that process with the Middle Catawba."

For now, Woodward and his helpers plan to get out on the water and paddle, designing and mapping the trail. He welcomes interested paddlers who might want to help collect mileage figures, put up trail markers and spread the word. For more information, contact Woodward at the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department's Division of Natural Resources at 704 588-0697.

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