Nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake James is a 6,510 acre lake in western North Carolina with 150 shoreline miles. Duke Power constructed three dams between 1916 and 1923 to create the lake: Catawba, Linville, and Paddy Creek. Lake James is the first in the Catawba River chain of lakes with an elevation of 1200 feet above sea level. Although built by Duke Power to provide hydroelectric power to the surrounding region, Lake James has become one of the area's premier recreation destinations. Development on the lake is mostly low-density housing.
When you visit Lake James, boating will be at the top of your list of things to do. The lake does not have a speed or horsepower limit, so you can choose to whiz around in a powerboat, test the winds in a sailboat, enjoy the views from a pontoon boat, or take your time in a canoe. Duke Power owns five public recreational access locations, including four boat ramps and one fishing and canoe access area. Lake James State Park leases two boat access locations, Hidden Cove and Canal Bridge, from the power company. The other two boat access locations, Black Bear and Linville, and the Bridgewater fishing/canoe area are managed cooperatively by Duke Power and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. In addition, four commercial marinas provide public boat access.