Thursday, February 11, 2021

Mountain Island Lake Park and Trail

We had the most refreshing outing the other day. Partly because the sun finally came out after a cold, gray stretch, and partly because we stumbled on a new-to-us destination with a little bit of something for everyone.

Mountain Island Lake park and trail, located about 30 minutes northwest of uptown near Mount Holly, NC, are nestled along the Catawba River next to the hydroelectric station and dam at the southern end of Mountain Island Lake. 

(As a point of interest, Mountain Island Lake, the smallest of the three man-made lakes that border Mecklenburg County (the other two are Lake Wylie and Lake Norman) provides drinking water for much of Charlotte, Mount Holly and Gastonia.) 

This recreational perch along the river offers water access for boaters, piers and accessible shoreline for fishers, a playground for young explorers, and several miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers.

We visited with bikes and took to the trail system, which includes a 1.5-mile, easy, gravel out-and back stretch of the Carolina Thread Trail. Along the way, we discovered some side loops, built and maintained by the Tarheel Trailblazers, with fun bridges, boardwalks and features for more technical mountain biking.

The main trail is good for all ages and skill levels. It's mostly shady and well-marked with Carolina Thread Trail blazes. There are also map kiosks every 0.5 miles, and several footbridges and benches along the way. I can't find a trail map online, but this is the yellow trail on the maps posted at the park.

The mountain bike trails -- mostly single-track -- loop their way along either side of the main trail. To navigate them, follow the red arrows. We enjoyed the 0.4-mile Boardwalk loop. This trail is green on the posted trail map. Other options include the 0.6-mile inner loop (purple) and 0.8-mile outer loop (blue), and I understand there are more in the works.

We also spent some time on the playground equipment, which wasn't too crowded on a weekday afternoon.

Next time we go, we plan to take fishing gear and set up camp for a while along the large, handicap-accessible fishing pier situated near the base of the dam. I hear this is a good area for catching catfish and bass.

There's plenty of parking in the main lot, but no restroom facilities, so plan your visit accordingly. 

There's something very pleasant about spending time along the water and, with so much to do here, we plan to visit Mountain Island park and trail again soon. 

How to get there:
The Mountain Island Lake park and trailhead are located at 400 Mountain Island Rd, Mt Holly, NC 28120.
Don't forget to pack
  • Comfortable walking shoes (sneakers will do)
  • Water and snacks
  • Mountain bikes (and helmets) 
  • Fishing gear 
  • Hats, sunscreen and sunglasses

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