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Falls Reservoir in North Carolina

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Falls Reservoir is the lake created between Narrows Dam, holding back Badin Lake, and Falls Dam which marks the beginning of Lake Tillery. The lake itself is about 2 miles in length and fairly narrow. On a map it looks like nothing more than a part of the Yadkin River. To be sure, this is a little known treasure of central North Carolina. While the lakes of the Yadkin River are generally surrounded by housing developments and golf courses, Falls is not.

There are only two access points to the lake, one on each side of the southern end of the lake. The access near Badin in the only one that is paved and has a boat ramp suitable for powerboats. This, combined with the lack of knowledge of the lake, keep traffic down to a minimum. Even on busy weekends there are few visitors to Falls Reservoir.

The scenery at Falls is unmatched in the area and one will likely witness the fishing of Bald Eagles. The shores of the lake are filled with exposed rock formations. A few of the formations are suitable for cliff jumping and repelling, though it is not recommended without prior knowledge of the proper cliffs. There are even waterfalls to explore along the western shore.

You can also paddle up to the base of Narrows Dam and picnic on the rocks below the spillway. It is hard to describe the beauty of this lake in comparison to the other Yadkin River lakes, it is completely unique and breathtaking.

Interestingly, Falls Reservoir rests atop what was once known as the "Narrows of the Yadkin" which was a notoriously rough section of the river. It has been rumored that it held some of the best whitewater in NC. One can only imagine what beauty the river held before the power was harnessed for electricity. In 1917, Narrows Dam was completed forming Badin Lake and later (I can't remember the date) Falls Dam was completed thus creating Falls Reservoir.

Because this lake was formed by flooding a mountainous area the lake is extremely deep in places. Most of the eastern shore is a virtual drop-off from dry land. The pool directly below the spillway is reported to be up to 200 feet deep due to erosion from high volume releases.

There are a few special considerations when paddling Falls:

  • The dams; great care should be taken when paddling close to the dams, especially the base of Narrows where there is considerable current.
  • Fishing buoys; there are usually many fishing "jugs" throughout the lake and sometimes they look like floating trash.
  • Rope swing; there is a rope swing on the eastern shore but use it at your own risk, it's not in the safest spot.

The land to the east of Falls is Uwharrie National Forest aside from the shoreline near Narrow's Dam which is ALCOA owned. There are several campsites scattered along the shores that are obvious and established. The western shore is all private land.

It may seem strange or unlikely that a place like this exists in central NC but it is absolutely true. It is shocking even to some locals that the lake even exists and it is a trip worth taking. There is easily enough to explore for a day trip and even an overnight trip could be rewarding.


There are multiple accommodations in Badin and Albemarle. Some notables are "The Badin Inn" ( and "The Underground House" (

There are also two campgrounds located in the Uwharrie National Forest: Arrowhead Campground and Badin Lake Campground. Both have electrical hookups and full bathhouses, tent or RV camping is allowed.


God's Country Outfitters in Albemarle is available to supply paddling needs, canoe and kayak rentals and guided tours of Fall's Reservoir. Website:




From Albemarle, NC take HWY 740 towards Badin. At the flashing caution light take a right on Falls Road. Follow Falls Rd through town and the boat landing is 2 miles down on the left.

Falls Reservoir is within 2 hours of most of central NC including Charlotte, the Triad area and Raleigh/Durham.

Trip Details

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water

Trip Location