Gaston County’s waterways were once overlooked. Not anymore! Outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists joined together to transform the South Fork River into one of the top blue ways in North Carolina.
The slow-flowing Catawba River, which forms the county’s eastern edge beside Mount Holly and Belmont, has come to the forefront with marinas, launches and places to paddle and dock from the county’s northeastern edge at Mount Holly’s River Street Park to the southeastern edge where the river becomes Lake Wylie.
11 Mills Blueway Trail
Kayak, Canoe or Paddleboard
Gaston County’s newest blue way initiative is the 11 Mills Blueway Trail, encompassing both the South Fork River and the Catawba River in the eastern expanses of the county. The trail has six boat launches on the South Fork River and eight boat launches on the Catawba. Stopping off points along the South Fork include Sun’s Up Scuba and District 8 Beer Company in Belmont, Floyd & Blackie’s Ice Cream & Coffee in Cramerton. Stopping off points along the Catawba include Tailrace Marina and J.R. Cash’s Grill & Bar in Mount Holly, U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte and Muddy River Distillery in Belmont.
Go for Goat Island
This park in the middle of the South Fork River is a popular stop for paddlers. The island is full of activities: 18-hole disc golf course, dog park, fishing pier, permanent pingpong tables (bring your own equipment) and cornhole sets (bring your own bags). Oh yeah, bathrooms too!
A Carolina Thread Trail greenway runs east-west through the park with an impressive bridge connecting the island to downtown Cramerton on the west side. Two restaurant bars are within steps of exiting the bridge, as is a coffee shop/ice cream parlor.
Simplify your blueway adventure in Gaston County with waterside rentals. No need to haul it in when the gear is already here. The following places on the Catawba River provide rentals: Tailrace Marina in Mount Holly, U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte and Riverside Marina in Belmont. On the South Fork River, waterside rentals are available at The Floating Goat in Cramerton.