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How to paddle the Catawba River on the 11 Mills Blueway

11 Mills Blueway Map of Catawba River

What is the 11 Mills Blueway

The 11 Mills Blueway is Gaston County’s premier blueway initiative, encompassing both the Catawba River and its South Fork. Along the way paddlers will find places to launch their boats, equipment rental as well as eateries and breweries to stop and relax.

Catawba River

This stretch of the Catawba River starting just below Mountain Island Lake in North Carolina and flowing to the border of South Carolina is an amazing way to spend the day paddling. Enjoy breakfast near the launch in downtown Mount Holly, stop for lunch along the way and catch the sunset five to six miles down steam.

1 River Street Park

STARTING POINT 300 N. River St., Mt Holly, NC 28120

Launch your boat on Dutchmans Creek at River Street Park in Mount Holly, where you can eat breakfast at Mount Holly Grill and get a coffee to go at Catawba Coffee Co. to start your day. The park has a walking trail, playground, fishing pier, and a disc golf course. It’s just a short paddle downstream to a right turn into the Catawba’s main channel to pick up the blueway.

2 Tuckaseege Park

1.5 Miles | 30 Minutes 165 Broome St., Mt Holly, NC 28120

Tuckaseege Park is a popular place for picnics, the park has four shelters. Paddlers can use the boat launch to gain access to the playground, dog park, walking trail and skate park and more.

3 Tailrace Marina

0.5 Miles | 10 Minutes 1000 Marina Village Dr., Mt Holly, NC 28120

About two miles into your trip, an island divides the river into two channels. Paddle river right to pull out at Tailrace Marina for a sandwich or cocktails on the waterfront deck at J Cash's Grill & Bar. If you don’t have your own boat, you can start out at the marina, where they rent single and tandem kayaks and canoes, and stand-up paddleboards.

4 Whitewater Center

0.5 Miles | 10 Minutes 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte, NC 28214

Across the river from Tailrace Marina, a second, narrower river channel leads to the dock at the Whitewater Center. Allow a few hours to pull out on the sandy shoreline, hike up the trail to the activity center and restaurant, and enjoy everything Whitewater Center has to offer. Go rafting on the man-made whitewater river, or climbing, mountain biking, and ziplining on 1,300 acres of forested trails.

Need a break before you get back on the river? Relax on the lawn with a craft beer from the Pump House Biergarten and lunch from the River’s Edge Grill while you watch whitewater kayakers play in the class II-IV rapids. Another alternative to consider is planning your paddle trip around more than 50 races, concerts, outdoor films, and festivals that the center hosts throughout the year.

5 Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park

2 Miles | 40 Minutes 1400 Catawba St., Belmont, NC 28012

You can’t miss the pier and boat launch at Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park on river right as you paddle down the Catawba into the Town of Belmont. The playground and picnic shelters sit up on the top of a bluff overlooking the river as it widens and flows into Lake Wylie. There’s an ADA-accessible kayak and canoe launch at the park, and the pier is a great place to pull ashore and drop your fishing line from the floating dock.

6 Riverside Marina

0.5 Miles | 10 Minutes 1500 Catawba St., Belmont, NC 28012

Not only can you rent kayaks and SUP boards at Riverside Marina, but you can also take a distillery tour and sample Belmont’s craft beer scene while you’re there. Up the hill from the marina is the former Spectrum Dye Mill, which was renovated to house North Carolina’s first rum distillery, Muddy River Distillery. Sample their signature oak barrel-aged Queen Charlotte’s Reserve rum during your tour, then head around the corner for a pint of craft beer on the deck at York Chester Brewing Company.


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