Lake Lure, NC

elevation – 1020 ft.

size – 720 acres

“Touching a dream…..


a journey of depth that few may understand,

seeking paths upon the water,

and footprints past – from the sand….” tgh


Water Clarity – 7+

Natural Quality – 6+

perception – weekday



Lake Lure is a more than a lake, it’s a city.  The dam was completed around 1927 and the property the lake sits on was ‘annexed’ in 1965.  The population of Lake Lure is somewhere around 1,050 and with at least that many homes on the lake, if somethings stirring in Lake Lure its usually about ‘the water.’  The sense that I get, is that the community remains vigilant over the water-quality and aquatic life within their lake.  The proximity of the homes and recreational use of the waters making this effort all the more challenging..

It is a seasonal economy where the distinct mountains draw tourists from near and far to enjoy the view of the stark terrain.  Nearby Chimney Rock park provides a spectacular aerial view of the area – along with the traditional pleasures of tourist-style ‘trinket’ shopping.  During the fall of each year the brilliant colors blanket the horizon as waves of ‘bikers’ enjoy their ‘ride’ across the voluptuous by-ways.


This is at least my fourth paddle at Lake Lure, the lake that that I first paddled traveller (the 20-lbs of ice and a six-pack trip) my simple ‘appaloosa’ type of kayak.  The drawback of constantly paddling lake Lure has been the 12-buck fee to paddle ($6 a day or $12 a week), the only lake around that charges – but I guess it is a city with unique resources. Personally, I feel that where the land, docks, and homes can be private – water is a natural ‘right-of-way‘ and should be a ‘free-ride’ for non motorized vessels.

But it is what it is, and the week pass is the best deal at this time – depending on how you wish to paddle her too. The @25 mile shoreline is a good base for me, easily covered in a full paddle day – a leisurely paddle like going down the Suwannee.   With a half-a-day already shot, my plan was to spend at least two days on Lake Lure – and ‘run the shoreline.’

Permits can be picked up at City Hall (same lot as the marina), Michelle was at the window and made this as painless as possible.  I had actually ran to Lake Lure just to pick up the permit, check the landings, and then return home, but heck – “boat’s on the roofwhy not go ahead and paddle some.  It was after lunch when that ‘notion came – about the same time as these two folks were taking-out their inflatables (going in the ‘opposite’ direction as others seems to be a ‘norm for me).


Put-in’s for Lake Lure are minimal, the only two public points are at the marina and/or behind the ABC store near the 1927 Lake Lure Inn and ‘the beach.’  The LL Public Beach is another resource for the town, a draw for kids and adults from the mountains to cool off in the summer heat on a semblance of sand.

The balancing act here again is with ‘animal-lovers’ – encouraging wildlife (ducks/geese) yet recognizing the risks associated for swimmers with duck-crap present (my buddy Al calls em ‘land-mines’); Lake Julian is a vivid example.  Lake Lure has a posted ordinance against feeding the ducks (they can take care of themselves) – still, watch where you step when putting your boat in behind the ABC – “don’t step on a land-mine.”

The positive note with Lure is that there is a continuous water exchange from the Broad River flow which helps to minimize this issue.

available map

A helpful (and free) map is available when you pick up your permit – and/or at the ramp.  With the late ‘put-in’ I figured to paddle the westerly ‘finger’ of the lake to the headwaters of the Broad River – then paddle the remainder of the lake the following day.


Easy paddle out past the marina while at the same time overhearing one of the tour-boats (“Roosevelt, Coolidge, etc”), then left under the highway and up the mellow broad river.

A number of years back we got a real flush through here, a few of hurricane Jeannie’s heavily burdened rain clouds slammed into the mountainside – the gush of water from the little town of Gerton even moved some of these boulders – it’s a gentle current today.

This was the farthest that I could paddle from the lake – folks were swimming.  What I did like was looking to the shore and there was a tiki-bar with cold beverage, signs all lit up – a potential late-day stop for a paddler.


As I paddled out another paddler was working her way up the Broad – so I chatted with Anne, from Virginia Beach and Wild River Outfitters.  Anne mentioned that she and her husband had brought their own kayaks but were told by a local ‘outfitter’ that it was cheaper to rent one of theirs than pay the fee – I don’t think that’s true, shouldn’t be.  I conveyed the information about the non-motorized fee and we paddled on as we talked more – folks like to paddle their own boat.

Its was good conversation as we worked out of the river portion closer to Firefly-Cove, where they were staying.  Her husband Rich was enjoying the spacious dock while ‘Cutter’ (son) searched the shoreline and fished – more conversation.

Fire-Fly cove is the setting used in the ‘Dirty Dancing’ movie a few years back – the clearing in the background just above the front of her cockpit is where the remains of the old gym can still be viewed.


Being in no hurry we talked a bit more before I moved on, the boathouses are fewer on this end of the lake.  I am continually finding the character of these ‘little islands’ intriguing – fresh ideas and unique twists to this ‘personal-space’ along waters-edge – cool.

But the less habitated coves have their natural niche too – at times more intriguing than what folks have done or hang on their boathouses – its all relative.

Dive Barge

Along the West side of Buffalo Bay a commercial dive barge was moored, really not sure what they were up to but after seeing it anchored and operating out in the middle later-on – I simply figured they might be working on utility lines for the city (a grid runs though the lake).


I explored Lake Lure Village cove then swung through ‘Buffalo Bay’ into the corners of Snug Harbor and Grey Log coves to begin my paddle back for the day.


rope-swing apparatus

What I was beginning to notice, especially after recent paddles at Lakes Rabun and Burton in Georgia were the number of older and ‘dilapidated’ boathouses scattered about Lake Lure – not that I mind for the dated structures hold stories of their own, character – there were just more than I expected to see.

Other pictures of Lake Lure boathouses.


Blue Heron


Day-one was an easy going four-hour paddle covering the West end of the lake – tentative plans would be to park the next day near the junctions of hwy-9 and 64 to cover the larger portion of the lake.

But you know how plans are – again the public put-ins are limited.  On my last visit with another paddler we asked an employee and were allowed to park at Larkin’s on the lake, it was a steep put-in (and we had to carry our kayaks out through the afternoon crowd) but it saved some distance (and we ate there).  On this trip my hopes were dashed when I pulled into the lot, “signs, signs everywhere” and they were clear about non-patrons “would be towed!”

Not a big deal, it was early and I would continue over to the dam and look some more.


Lake Lure Dam 2011

Just before the dam (life’s full of ‘little-circles‘) there was another private landing – which once again was closed to the public – it was looking like I would paddle from the ABC ramp once again – on the far end of the lake.

Broad river, “water under the bridge’

‘watch out for land-mines’

Oh well, back to the ABC ramp


and a two-mile paddle back to Buffalo Bay, my ‘turn-back’ point of  the previous day.

Calibration Point

It was time to cool-off, so I made a stop at calibration point to enjoy a half of sub and a few ‘left-over’ wings – my paddle pace from here would be to follow the left bank and to “paddle like I had all day.”

This meant exploring the coves of the northwest


all while pondering rope-swings,

shipwrecked picknick tables,


– and rocks that have been visited before

“It must have been a deal with the devil, because for an extended period the connection was absolutely perfect, the very best – life changing, and then……. it was all like footprints in the sand.” tgh

The NW side of Lure has a peaceful and sporadically unsettled allure – interesting coves.  I think I could have just remained quietly ‘tucked into’ one of these quiet little corners for a night – not ‘camping’ because that’s probably not allowed in this city – but maybe just conveniently ‘stuck’ for a night.

soon docks and boathouses increased

and ‘Condos’ appeared, then the final cove on the Northern tip – Laurel Landing

Rumbling Bald resort at the norther-most point of the lake had a few folks mingling on the beach and playground.

Past the LL fire boat (where I noticed the 2″ gated wye and a storz supply line fitting on the nozzle – makes sense)

Buffalo Creek

before going up Buffalo Creek a short distance then back, beyond this point is the much smaller Bald Mountain Lake, more lodges and rental stuff.  Once again past the fireboat and along the south shore towards the dam – taking time for a cool dip and to finish off the wings along the way.

IMG_2166wanna slide?

One cove was really dense with houses


– which didn’t seem to matter to this couple from Marietta, Oh – they were set at their pace, ‘feet-up.  I’ve seen sunnin turtles move faster.

There were some interesting conglomerations along with the many nice waterside docks and boathouses too, add-ons from many years.  On this date I again noticed a number of older boathouses that seemed neglected, kinda sad.



High dive


Near the dam I ran into these folks working hard to adjust, in conversation ‘John’ and I had a mutual friend (ks) at the FD – today he was hangin out with his Dad and dog kc, having (and sharing) cold beverages; good plan (and thanks).

Being near the private landing from earlier this morning when starting my day, I paddled over to ask a few questions – maybe gather some information for future paddlers.  In a make-shift structure along the water with a nice Master-Craft was a small business that catered to those wanting to simply kayak, wake-board or ski – Lake Lure Adventure.  Once again I sat dockside while simply talking about ‘stuff’ (“paddlin like I’ve got all-day”).  It was getting later in the afternoon and I wanted to visit Larkin’s soon, I had something on my mind.


Around the picknick point shoreline

Yacht Island

and under the Yacht Island bridge (stopping for one more ‘dip)


Nope, didn’t even need the menu at Larkins – “I’ll take a big juicy burger, sweet potato fries, and a really cold beverage (or two)” – ballast (and bilge pump)!

Then with one last cove to paddle, Tryon Bay



and up this little creek – not sure of the creeks name in Tryon Bay, but its a good place to leave you with this paddle of Lake Lure.  The paddle back to the ramp was uneventful and the same route as I had made on the previous day.

With two simple days I had picked up my permit, paddled the Broad river end of Lake Lure – and then returned to complete the 720 acres of Buffalo Bay.  Lake Lure has little patches of isolated shores mixed into some interesting coves along its banks – the bonus some could say is that it also has at least two places to stop and eat along the way (in season), not always the case in most paddles.

Its an interesting lake with lots of ‘lake-life’ character, a worthwhile visit.  Summer is wonderful, fall is awesomely vivid – the only hurtle is the fee.


“Paddle like you have all-day”

(boathouse pictures)



atau Tamarackidd