Middle Catawba Canoe
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 trail 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.