More ways to have fun along the Catawba-Wateree River More ways to have fun along the Catawba-Wateree River

More ways to have fun along the Catawba-Wateree River

Duke Energy has upgraded recreation areas and built new ones at dozens of sites along Carolinas waterways


David Palmer lives near Badin Lake in North Carolina but drives 2 1/2 hours to Lake Wateree in South Carolina because the boat access there is so good.

“I probably pass four access areas on my way to Molly Creek,” said Palmer, a New London, N.C., resident who owns a farm and wedding venue and general store. “I live half a mile from an access area on Badin Lake, but Molly Creek is worth the drive. It’s one of the nicest boat access areas in the state.”

The new Molly Creek Access Area at Lake Wateree in South Carolina features two boat ramps and two fishing platforms, picnic area and shelter, rest rooms and swimming.

Among the things he likes about the area, near Colonels Creek Landing in Fairfield County, S.C.: “The extra-long ramps, the docks are plenty big, they’ve got restrooms. Even the trash area is nice with tamper-resistant trash cans.”

He took his bass boat fishing for stripers the week after Molly Creek opened in early December.

“At Molly Creek, your boat’s not going to go off the concrete pad,” Palmer said. “The ramps are extra-long. Everywhere Duke Energy has built a boat access area, it’s nice and up to date.”

Molly Creek is just one of the new sites people can expect to enjoy this summer and beyond.

Duke Energy has upgraded – or will upgrade – 32 sites and build facilities at 26 new sites under the Catawba-Wateree Recreation Management Plan, from Lake James in North Carolina to Lake Wateree in South Carolina.

The playground at Beatty's Ford Access Area in Lincoln County, N.C.

“Historically Duke Energy access areas have provided boat access to the lakes and rivers at our hydro facilities, with boating and fishing as the primary forms of recreational use,” said Jennifer Bennett, project manager at Duke Energy. “In recent years the demand for new and alternative recreational access to the lake has increased. People want to paddle, swim, observe wildlife and picnic, just to name a few. Lake users will continue to see those types of uses as Duke Energy enhances access areas and builds new areas under the new Catawba-Wateree license.”

Molly Creek’s amenities include two fishing piers, three restroom buildings, two large picnic shelters, two ramps, a courtesy dock and trails. A swim beach will open in time for Memorial Day. Duke Energy worked with the county to pave the formerly gravel public road leading to it.

The site is 100 acres, and Duke Energy developed 21 acres of it. The company is marketing the remaining acreage to a third party to lease and possibly develop it as a public campground. There are 221 parking spaces, and 47 of those are for vehicles with trailers.

Beatty's Ford Access Area on a recent spring Saturday. The access area on Lake Norman in Lincoln County, N.C., has four boat ramps.

“On a recent pretty Saturday, the boat parking lot was full,” said Christy Churchill, Duke Energy’s project manager for the site. “We expect it to be busy this summer.” 

Duke Energy doesn’t just place an emphasis on recreation; the company puts a priority on safety, too. Two life jacket loaner boards have been placed at Molly Creek, Churchill said. One is at the swim beach, and the other is at the boat landing.

Duke Energy has four access areas with new swim beaches in construction and numerous other enhancements underway.

Bennett said the recently opened canoe/kayak launches on Muddy Creek, a Catawba River tributary near Lake James, and Corpening Bridge on a Lake Rhodhiss tributary – both in North Carolina – are two new facilities that have generated excitement.

Little Creek Access Area on Lake Norman in Lincoln County, N.C.

Know before you go

Before heading out to picnic, fish, boat or swim, know where you’re going and what you can expect. Check out Duke Energy’s Recreation Information website for a list of sites and water access areas, safety protocols, and use guidelines.

More Stories About Insights