It's the most scenic place I've paddled within an hour or so of Charlotte, my home: Falls Reservoir (sometimes referred to as the Narrows), just below Lake Badin to the north and Lake Tillery at Morrow Mountain State Park to the south. This is actually part of the Yadkin River. It's always a great paddle. With awesome weather it's really special.
The put-in is on the south side of the lake near the Falls dam. Paddle north toward the Badin dam, approximately 2.5 miles against the current. On this paddle you'll see zero development, except the dams. No high power boats, only a few low horsepower fishermen. The powerboats are fixated on Badin Lake. Also, The Lake is framed by the Uwharrie Mountains to the east and the Morrow Mountains to the west, making it unique for the North Carolina piedmont.
Along the way I saw islands, rock gardens, a waterfall, a water cascade and you can play in the fast water as you get nearer to the north dam and spillway. You'll also see tent campers, since the east side is Uwharrie National Forest which allows camping throughout.
As I turned around near the dam, I moved over to the east side of the Lake and enjoyed the still water by two islands. On the paddle south you'll see the rock garden on left and begin hearing the waterfall. It's a nice treat to check out the falling water. I saw a crew of adventurous young climbers repelling on the cliffs by the waterfall.
Usually, I see a young bald eagle with a specked dark brown and white coat of feathers. I guess I missed him today. I'm looking forward to him maturing, so I can see the white head and tail. But, today as I was just beginning my paddle I happened on a snake in the water, brown with stripes about two to three feet long. I saw tons of turtles, big ones too, a few great blue heron, some turkey vultures and a cormorant.
There were quite a few kayaks and canoes on the water. I beached on the Uwharrie side of the river. The plan was to check out my ENO hammock and do some reading. However, I couldn't find the ropes I'd set aside for this task. I was too stubborn to buy slack straps when rope will do. So, I used the rope I had on hand, It was too weak, snapping as I put weight on it. So I sat on my foam paddle float and read while enjoying the view. On the way home I stopped and purchased the slack straps and put them in the bag with the rest of my hammock stuff.
I paddled down to the portage landing, on the east side of the Lake for portaging around the Falls dam. Besides seeing the water cascade, it was a disappointment. There is no real landing area and once I figure out how to land on the rocks and roots, then I'd have to haul my kayak and gear straight up a vertical rock wall. With my long boat, I'd need at least three people, a lot of strong rope and a lot of luck. The only thing there is a sign and some orange paint. It looks like this was put up by someone who really didn't want to see any paddlers making the trek.
Paddling Distance: 5.5 miles, loop.
Started north against current and rode the current on the way back.
You're just outside of Albemarle NC, which has all your standard hotel chains.
Necky Looksha IV (17' Sea Kayak)
Directions are kind of important, when I came here the first time, I asked some locals and they had never heard of Falls Reservoir. That's a good sign for paddlers, but it doesn't make it easier to find.
Take Albemarle Rd (24 27 East) to Albemarle NC. Follow signs to Morrow Mountain State Park, which puts you on 740 follow it past Morrow Mountain State Park into Badin. Turn right on Falls Road, just before the gas station (last gas, restroom or convenience store). Follow the Falls Road about three miles. When you come to a fork in the road, go left and you're at the put-in.
I live near UNC Charlotte and it's 57 miles from my house.
"Paddling Eastern North Carolina" by Paul Furguson