South Fork River Launches
The South Fork Catawba River is west of the Catawba River and merges with the Catawba River at Lake Wylie near the South Carolina border. The river offers miles of natural landscapes, with great fishing and paddling opportunities. The South Fork Catawba River is home to a variety of wildlife, including great blue herons, osprey, bald eagles, and deer. Users who access the river from the Spencer Mountain River Access will paddle through some of the most ecologically diverse lands in our region, many of which are permanently protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy. Downriver from the dam, paddlers will encounter the headwaters of Lake Wylie, enjoying slower moving water and a number of rich wetlands along the stream banks.
There are currently nine access points for the South Fork River blueway. Catawba Lands Conservancy manages the Spencer Mountain River Access which is a canoe/kayak launch to provide public access to the South Fork Catawba River. The most popular paddling trip is from Spencer Mountain River Access to the R.Y. McAden River Access; this access point is 5.5 miles downriver and the trip takes approximately 2.5 hours. Depending on the current water level, the river features may vary from slow moving water with a few Class I/II rapids to more concentrated rapids at approximately mile 3.5.
There is a dam approximately 5.5 miles downriver from Spencer Mountain River Access. Users can exit the river on river right (west side of the river) before the dam at the R.Y. McAden Access just south of the I-85 overpass. Those who wish to continue downriver to Goat Island Park or Riverside Park can use the Adam Springs Portage Trail on river left (east side of the river), approximately 450 feet downriver from the R.Y. McAden Access. Look out for a white sign (see below in pictures) stating “Danger Dam Ahead. Take Out Here for Portage”. Please be aware that the portage trail is close to the dam. We suggest paddling as close to river left as possible (see *Special notes). The South Fork blueway continues for another 2.5 miles, ending at the Goat Island Park launch or Riverside Park launch, both in the town of Cramerton.