also known as the inland sea is the largest lake in North Carolina and is often described in terms of Upper and Lower Lake Norman due to its massive size. This lake is unlike any other as it is very distinct between the upper and lower portions of the lake as the upper remains undeveloped and the lake takes on much more of a naturistic feel while Lower part of Lake Norman is a bustling Hub of activity. Residents and guests alike flock to the area for amenities including upscale shopping, year-round golfing, NASCAR, fishing and other water activities. Surrounding the Lake are several bustling cities that offer something for everyone.
Town of Cornelius
Cornelius was established in 1905 and originated as a mill and farm community. Originally incorporated as ‘Liverpool’, the town’s name was changed to Cornelius to honor Joseph Benjamin Cornelius. When Lake Norman was formed, Cornelius added 54 miles of shoreline. Today, Cornelius is a laid-back town offering unique attractions, restaurants, lakeside parks and shopping.
Town of Davidson
Davidson is a charming, Southern college town. Davidson was founded in 1837, with the establishment of Davids Town of Davidson on College which remains a vital part to the town’s identity today. In 2011, Davidson was awarded its first Tree City USA designation. Davidson one of just 72 communities in North Carolina and just 3,000 nationwide to receive the award. In 2004, Davidson was a Smart Growth Award winner for Overall Excellence in town planning and design, the main street of Davidson offers a variety of shops, restaurants, wide sidewalks, and a public library. Davidson is bicycle and pedestrian-friendly, so take a walk around the town and enjoy Davidson’s more than 12 miles of greenways and bike lanes, parks, national arboretum, and beautiful flowers throughout the town.
Town of Huntersville
Town of Denver, NC
Denver lies along the less populated but growing daily western side of Lake Norman. Denver and the west side of the lake feature close proximity to three great golf courses including Verdict Ridge, Westport, and Cowans Ford country club. Verdict ridge often hosts a regional US open qualifier and is known to have some of the fastest and most challenging greens in Western North Carolina. Denver has experienced fast growth since the development of the 4 lane Hwy 16 making the Charlotte city limits a quick 15 minute drive.The Denver area features some of the best pricing on Lower Lake Norman and has become one of our more requested areas.
Lake Norman Facts
Year Built: 1959-1963
Area: 32,510 acres at full pond
Length: 33.6 miles
Shoreline length: 520 miles
Maximum Depth: 110 feet
Average Depth: 33.5 feet
Maximum Draw-down: 15 feet
Capacity: 3.4 trillion gallons of water
Volume: 1,093,600 acre-feet
at the full pond: 760 feet above MSL
Retention Time: 207 days (average)
Drainage Area: 1,790 square miles
Average River Flow at Cowans Ford Dam: *1,726 MGD
Named for: Norman Atwater Cocke (former president of Duke Power)
Lake level: Call 1-800-829-5253
tion: Latitude: 35.5177689 Longitude: -80.9557724
As an overview Upper Lake Norman is the biggest Lake in the State of North Carolina with over 520 miles of shoreline and 32,475 acres.
Due to the massive size of the Lake many local residents break the lake down into “Upper” and “Lower” Lake Norman. Upper Lake Norman is typically defined as properties on the North side of Hwy 150 which runs east to west roughly over the middle part of the lake.
I currently live on Upper Lake Norman myself and love the versatility of this area of the lake. It has a beautiful state park, is much quieter than the rest of the lake offering less waves and more isolated coves to explore, but it also has the dining and marina options coveted by all.
A lot of folks when thinking of Lake Norman think of the 40 ft cabin cruisers, multi-million dollar mansions, and a busy lake. While all of that is great it is simply not for everybody upper Lake Norman is able to offer a much different vibe. Being further from the metropolis of Charlotte the upper part of the lake features a far more laid back life style and less lake traffic. The HWY bridges crossing the lake keep the sailboats and huge cabin cruisers from being able to access the upper parts and thus keeping it a little more protected.
One of my personal favorite parts of Upper Lake Norman are the waterfront Dining options.
Just being able to hop in your boat and visit your favorite restaurant for dinner and drinks is a great way to spend a Friday evening. Upper Lake Norman has some great options for this. One of my favorites is The Landing restaurant which features a lakeside volleyball court, a live music stage, and arcade for the kids. Unlike some of the other restaurants where the dock fills up and the party is limited to a certain size the owner of this restaurant employs the “tiki party boat” to allow you to anchor your boat in the cove and they come to pick you up. It adds a nice little wrinkle and ensures you can enjoy the shore-side fun at any time. Another favorite Upper Lake Norman restaurant I love is the Blue Parrot. The owner is a New York transplant and loves to mingle with guests and take a hands-on approach to run his restaurant. Some great island-inspired cocktails really set the mood and go great with the menu which includes everything from bar food to Sizzling Steaks.
One of everybody’s favorite parts of Upper Lake Norman is the Lake Norman State Park.
The park is a wonderful feature for nature lovers, hikers, mountain bikers, beach lovers, and property owners anywhere on the lake. The nature trail system features 3 different trails that introduce you to different areas of the park.
The Alder Trail
is a 0.8-mile loop that begins at Park Lake near the main entrance of the Park. This trail passes through the picnic area and circles the peninsula between Norwood and Hicks Creeks near Park Lake. This trail is my favorite mostly because it is short but also gives you plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities in different environments. From woodlands to Lakefront, to Marshy Wetlands.
is a 10.5-mile (16.9 km) mountain biking trail designed, built and maintained by the Tar Heel Trailblazers, a Charlotte-based mountain biking club. I personally have never been on this trail but have been told that it can be very challenging with a mostly woodlands environment but also some spectacular Lake Vistas.
The Alder Trail
is a 5-mile (8.0 km) trail on the shore of Lake Norman. This is certainly the most beautiful trail with almost the entire trail being lakefront.
iIt’s almost impossible to drive or take a walk through the park and not see at least one White-Tailed deer but there are many other native North Carolina Piedmont species found throughout the park. The more common mammals of the park are an opossum, White-tailed deer, red and gray foxes, rabbits, muskrats, raccoons, and gray squirrels. Amphibians and reptiles can also be found on the shores of Lake Norman and in the woods of Lake Norman State Park. The most common amphibians are a variety of frogs. A variety of snakes and turtles can also be seen at the park. Birds commonly seen at the park include Carolina chickadees, pine warblers, Red-tailed Hawks, Wild Turkey, osprey, mallards, geese, and herons.
Upper Lake Norman State Park Beach
The beach is a great place for meeting friends or just enjoying the sun. The 125 yard long beach is often packed on the weekends in the summer and gives boaters a great place to go and socialize with others or stop for a picnic and swim. The boat docks near the beach are free for public use and also a great place to stop for a bathroom break when out on the lake.