Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman, Our Inland Sea

Lake Norman aerial view

Almost every time we go out on the lake I take a moment to look down as far as I can into the water; wondering if below me lies an old farm, perhaps the village of Long Island or one of the 70 roads now silent below the 32,475 acres of water.

It is truly staggering to realize that in 1904 two sets of brothers, the Dukes and the Wylies and William Lee first met to discuss the beginning of what would result in the creation of Lake Norman in 1964. The culmination of a 60-year dream, this magnificent man-made “inland sea” required the purchase of 33,000 acres of land including homes, family farms, and entire towns. As a REALTOR, I find it particularly interesting that the landowners who traded their farms for pine forest that would front on the future lake referred to it as “worthless land”. Today, “good” waterfront lots start at about $500,000. The 520 miles of shoreline of Lake Norman have become some of the most valuable property in the state.


  • To put it in perspective for you, Lake Norman has 520 miles of shoreline, the Great Salt Lake has 335, Lake Lanier has 520, Lake Tahoe has 71 and Lake Erie has 871.
  • “Full pond” elevation of Lake Norman is 760 feet above sea level.
  • The deepest point is about 130′ and the average depth is about 25′
  • The water of Lake Norman is used to provide electricity to the Piedmont Carolinas and supply water to most of it’s adjacent cities/counties.
  • Lake Norman is the largest fresh water lake in North Carolina
  • 4 Counties border the lake: Iredell, Mecklenburg, Lincoln and Catawba
  • Lake Norman is 18 miles north of Charlotte
  • Types of fish include: White bass, bluegill, striped bass, rainbow trout, perch, walleye, largemouth bass and white crappie


Lake Norman State Park in Troutman


  • Lake Norman State Park (camping, boating and boat rentals, fishing, nature, hiking and mountain biking trails, nature programs and picnicking and swimming)
  • Blythe Landing on Lake Norman (6 boat ramps, volleyball, playground, picnic sites with grills, wave-runner rentals)
  • Ramsey Creek Park on Lake Norman (Public Beach, 4 boat ramps, fishing pier, picnic shelters and tables, athletic fields, playground and nature trail)
  • Jetton Park (hiking, biking and rollerblading trails, 8 lighted tennis courts, playground, picnic area and sunning beach)


While it is tempting to get caught up in the fun of lake living, there is also a serious side to address: Water Recreation Safety, Shoreline Management, Soil and Water Conservation and the general preservation of the quality of life around the lake, both man-made and natural.

The regulation of the Lake Norman is the shared responsibility of Duke Energy, and state, recreation and law enforcement agencies in the Carolina’s. Duke Power has a license to run Lake Norman. These address everything from pier permitting (all piers must be permitted!), zoning maps (call 704.382.3676 to get a disc with 10 maps of the lake showing environmental areas and zoning to check any lot you may be interested in developing.), the minimum of 100′ of shoreline that is necessary to build a dock unless grandfathered in prior to new regulations, dredging, seawalls, stabilization and rip wrap and code enforcement of unsafe docks.

If you are planning to purchase an existing home/property or develop a lot on the waterfront I highly recommend that you read Duke Energy’s “Shoreline Management Guidelines” . There is a PDF version online as well.

Informational websites:

While all of our growth and development is exciting, it also is presenting new challenges to those like the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation who are working hard to oversee problems with erosion, sedimentation, buffer and dredging violations, pollution and sewage spills. Some of the most recent issues in the news are the coal ash ponds and the control of erosion due to stormwater runoff which is an increasing problem due to new construction along the shoreline and the enforcement of the state law requiring 50-ft undisturbed buffer from the shoreline. Tree buffers help by filtering pollutants from rainwater runoff and preventing erosion of the banks.

As a REALTOR I know that I have a responsibility to provide as much information as possible to all of my clients who live or plan to live on the Lake Norman shoreline. What was truly an outrageous vision in 1904 has because a spectacular reality that I am lucky enough to enjoy every day. If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned here I will either find the answer or direct you to the appropriate resource to assist you.

Thank you to Bill and Diana Gleasner for their gorgeous book “Lake Norman Our Inland Sea“. I will leave you with one of their poems:


Lake Norman Charlotte Observer article photo


Our Inland Sea

This valley carved by time and coursing streams

This pool of mountain snows with depths new-found

This vein of strength, born of giant dreams,

This ancient river channel, ocean bound.

Now diamond-riffed coves and bays,

Spacious skies and crystal days,

Arms and fingers reaching wide

Glinting gold at eventide

Cooling cure for August moons.

This gentle flow, this tranquil sea,

This island-studded pleasure dome

This moving thread of majesty,

This watery realm, our blessed home

Diana C. Gleasner


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