Lake Hickory Oxford Dam and Riverbend Park on Lake Lookout

by Chris Spencer

The Oxford dam represents the eastern limit of Lake Hickory but not the end of the fun. The end of Lake Hickory represents the beginning of Lake Lookout Shoals. Lake Lookout Shoals gets its name from its western section which is much more like a river than a lake with large boulders, fast moving current, and shallow waters. After the river section of Lake Lookout it opens up into a normal flat water lake but the river part of this lake give it two completely feels and more activities than your standard lake. The almost completely unpopulated west end gives you opportunities for tubing, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and other activities not available on any other lake. The Catawba County Riverbend park is a great area to enjoy this section of the lake from. The below list are a list of activities provided by Catawba county available at the park.


Dog Park- Fenced dog park allows for our furry friends to join in on the fun.

Fishing: Enjoy fishing from the bank of the Catawba River or the 3/4 acre pond at the back of the park. Bass, bream, yellow perch and catfish are the common species. Regulations of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission apply for fishing at Riverbend Park.

Picnicking: Most picnic tables are located close to the river. Benches can be found throughout the park. Almost any open spot along the river or in the meadows is perfect to spread out a blanket and enjoy the surroundings.

Biking Trails: The park provides 7.8 miles of trails for mountain biking. This portion of trail provides a technical, single lane course for the biking enthusiast. Please be courteous to others using the trail.

Hiking Trails: Twelve miles of trails lead you through Riverbend Park. Enjoy a shoreline trail that follows the river under the shade of mature river birches and beech trees. An ADA accessible river observation platform is located just off the lower parking lot at the trailhead. There are single lane natural trails and wide gravel/grass based trails that guide you through hardwood forest, grassy meadows, and Loblolly Pine forest. The most level trails are located near the river. Because of our unique location, you will see great diversity in plant life and wildlife.

Canoe/ Kayak Access: The access ramp, which is a short distance from the lower parking area, allows you to begin your trip just below the Oxford Dam outlet. The park does not provide canoes or kayaks, so paddlers must bring their own equipment. Please use caution as the hydroelectric dam creates rapid water level changes and strong currents. The nearest public takeout is at the Lookout Shoals access area 10.5 miles down river.

Wildlife and Habitat Observation: A great variety of habitats and wildlife can be observed at Riverbend Park. Along the river, you will find wetland habitats home to a variety of birds, reptiles, and mammals. Park visitors quite often see great blue herons, Canada Geese, and Wood Ducks. American Bald Eagles have been spotted on most days at the back of the park near the river. In the upland habitat white-tale deer, wild turkey, and various other birds and mammals can be found. You will also find a variety of plant-life. Riverbend Park is mostly hardwood and loblolly pine forest. There are several grassy meadows and wonderful displays of seasonal wildflowers in bloom.

Education and Events: To arrange educational or interpretive programs for your group or class please contact the Park Office.

Below is a drone video of the dam and park.

Published on 2017-01-02 12:50:21