At Landsford Canal is the river ever too low to paddle?
Yes and no! From the main area at Landsford you actually have two directions to paddle. When the water is low, downstream through the shoals is extremely difficult. There are a lot of rocks and rock shelves that can stop your boat. When the water is low (we recommend around 1500 to 2000 cubic feet per second flow rate for downstream paddles) visitors can paddle upstream easily as it is deep (around 20 feet in front of the main area) and very slow current speed. There are a few areas with scattered rocks but it is slow and deep for almost 5 miles. Then just turn around and paddle back to where you put in!
At Landsford Canal is the river ever too high to paddle?
Yes. We are dam controlled from Lake Wylie 25 miles to our north. The dam can produce water from almost nothing to around 13,000 cfs. Optimum water levels for most paddlers for downstream is 2000 to 3000 cfs, so the dam can produce water levels 6 times what is recommended. Anything over 4000 cfs should be paddled by very experienced paddlers only, and in whitewater boats. Most paddlers here are in canoes and recreational kayaks. These don’t have skirts or covers. Higher water means higher waves in this section which can fill up a boat quickly and cause a capsize. As the water rises, its speed also increases increasing the danger in this section.
How can I find out about river levels?
The USGS website has river gauges for the entire US. There are two gauges on this section of the Catawba that show river flows that can help visitors decide which way to paddle or if it is safe. The uppermost gauge is at the Hwy. 21 bridge crossing https://waterdata.usgs.gov/sc/nwis/uv?format=gif&period=14&site_no=02146000 the second gauge is at the Hwy. 5 bridge https://waterdata.usgs.gov/sc/nwis/uv?02147020. The key in looking at these is remembering our recommended flows for here are around 1800 cfs to 3000 cfs for most beginners to intermediate level paddlers. When checking these note the times on the charts. Now remember that the upper Hwy.21 gauge is 20 miles to our north. It takes around 6 hours for the water level at Hwy 21 to get down to Landsford. So, you can look at both gauges to see what the level is now (Hwy 5 gauge) and whether it will be coming up or going down.
When do the eagles nest?
Our eagles are a little later than most book predicted nesting period. Our nesting eagles have been here since 1995. Usually, we estimate egg lay around the end of February. This puts hatching around the first of April and fledging (when the young leave the nest) near June 1st. This is based on years of watching these birds raise young here. Once the young have fledged, the adults will be training them out on the river for several months before the young move on to find their own territory!
What is the best time to see the eagles?
While it is impossible to predict the actions of a wild animal, many people come here during the nesting season to try and see the eagles at or around the nest. When the birds are sitting on an egg(s), they are tucked down inside the nest and difficult to spot unless they fly out or in. Once the eggs hatch though, the adults will bring food to the young several times a day so from around the first week of April to the first of June, you may be able to see not only the adults bringing food but the last month or so the young eagles can be very active around the nest.
Where can you fish at Landsford?
You can fish anywhere on the Catawba, but there are some preferred places at the park. Remembering that water levels upstream from the main parking area are deep and areas south or below the main area are shallow/fast water may help you decide where to fish. There are several areas in the picnic area with good access to the open deep water. Most people that fish downstream like to step out on the rocks and fish the shallow pools. *Please use caution around river banks and wading out in the water. Water levels can change rapidly and without warning!
What kind of fish are at Landsford Canal?
Most warm water fish species are well represented here. The main species that are fished for here are: several species of catfish, several species of bream, largemouth bass, white bass, and crappie. There is a pretty good April run with the white bass, and most people fishing for catfish use the deeper north picnic area. Some “records”: 8 pound largemouth right in front of the log house, 22 pound channel catfish at sand bar just above the picnic area. Other species of interest: Carp over 20 pounds and long nosed gar over 4 feet long!
When are recreational boating flows scheduled?
Duke has been doing these as testing flows previous to the issuance of their license. Once they receive their new license it will be mandatory requirements. For Now you can see their recreational flow schedule from this link: https://www.duke-energy.com/community/lakes . The left hand column here has several other useful links about Duke lakes and water releases.
What venomous snakes can be found at Landsford?
Like many parks, animal and plant species have been studied here for many years. Lists are recorded and new species are added by verified sightings by qualified professionals. While Landsford has quite a few species of snakes documented here, the only venomous species ever recorded here is the Copperhead. While many people often confuse some of the non-venomous snakes with venomous ones, sightings of Copperheads are fairly rare by visitors as they usually prefer to hunt right near dusk which is after we close during the warmer months. All our watersnakes (4 species, banded, brown, red-bellied and queen) are non-venomous but can be large and heavy and incorrectly identified as “moccasins”. Every plant and animal species here is protected, so if you have questions, please ask a ranger.
When is the Lily Fest?
Our festival always falls on the third Sunday in May. This helps us avoid competition for our musical groups, and falls during the peak time for the lilies. The event is from noon to 5 pm and is free with your general park admission payment.
Where is the park’s Ultimate Outsider stamp located?
Our Ultimate Outsider stamp is located at the park kiosk near the stone restroom building.
For more general, statewide frequently asked questions, please click here.