Boating & PWC




One of the best vantage points in the NC Triad may be from the prow of a boat. With numerous lakes, rivers, and fishing areas to choose from—offering every imaginable opportunity for recreation—there are countless chances for pirates in paddlecraft and visitors exhilarated by the exhaust from an outboard engine to experience the NC Triad.


The Uwharrie National Forest offers boating of all kinds. The upper portions of the rivers are reserved largely for paddlers, while the lower reaches that comprise such features as Badin Lake allow swimmers, anglers, paddlers, and recreational boaters an opportunity to roam freely.
Boat launches are plentiful, and those looking to rent a pontoon or a jet ski for the weekend have endless choices of outfitters available, including Lilly’s Bridge Marina on Lake Tillery in Mount Gilead, located close to Uwharrie and the NC Triad’s many publicly accessible waterways.


Upend Your Expectations in the Upper Haw River


Dams and conservation have changed the rivers of the NC Triad, and none more so than the Upper Haw River. What used to be a quiet tributary of the Cape Fear River has become a landscape worth exploring by canoe or kayak when the river runs reasonably high. More than 100 miles long, the river can be taken in sections or all at once. Along the way, bask in the views of flower fields and high banks created by a stream that once ran low through the NC Triad.


Boating Without Leaving the City Limits


At 226-acres large, Lake Higgins is one of Greensboro’s hidden boating gems with a launch ramps allowing private boats access to the lake. Activities like paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing are also allowed on the lake. Lake Brandt, also located in Greensboro and almost four times the size of Lake Higgins, offers many of the same amenities with infinitely more opportunities to take advantage of this reservoir. Well-stocked with crapped, largemouth bass, and catfish, Lake Brandt is an excellent destination for anglers. And with rowboats, kayaks, and canoes available to rent, the lake is also a popular site for practicing paddlecraft in the NC Triad.

In Winston-Salem, the go-to spot for boating is Salem Lake, a more than 350-acre lake within city limits that allows boats up to 60-horsepower but forbids pleasure boaters and jet skiers. This makes it a welcome spot for sailboats, kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes. It also has some of the best fishing in the region; the lake is stocked with smallmouth bass that can be caught from a boat or the pier. 


Personal Watercraft


If you have a need for speed, there’s no limit to the fun you’ll have on the waterways of the NC Triad. Several lakes welcome jet skiing, and plenty of local outfitters supply jet ski rentals and more. After a day of jet skiing here, you’ll find there’s nothing quite like being on the water in the Triad.


Stake a Claim for Choice Lakes


With parts within the Uwharrie National Forest, Badin Lake is a jet ski destination and more. The lake stretches 5,350 acres, and its recreation area in Uwharrie offers plenty of wide-open stretches to cruise on a jet ski. The Cove Boat Ramp is open to motorized watercraft. You can also enjoy boating, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping, among other recreational activities. 

At 3,863 acres, the Belews Lake reservoir near Stokesdale includes multiple launches and marinas, including the Carolina and Humphrey’s Ridge. The lake has long stretches of lakefront perfect for jet skiing, as well as boating, water skiing, and more.


Selecting an Outfitter


Plenty of outfitters are committed to jet skiing fun in the NC Triad. 

If you’re bringing a jet ski on your trip and need extra parts or would like to purchase a jet ski while in town, Belew Wake Marine near Belews Lake can help. 

Uwharrie Adventures offers half- and full-day rentals that allow you to explore Badin Lake and the entire Uwharrie National Forest.