Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Badin Lake - Sparkling Waters

Posted March 9, 2009

Badin Lake is a great place for hikers, anglers and horse lovers. It’s about a 90 mile drive from my home in Cary. I took Highway 64 to Asheboro and then south onto Highway 49 toward Charlotte. After about 18 miles on Highway 49 I turned onto Highway 109 and drove 8 miles to Eldorado where you enter the Badin Lake segment of the Uwharrie National Forest. Cindy and I spent more than four hours hiking around the lake in the beautiful weather on Saturday. I’ve attached a couple of photographs from the trip.

The lake is located on the Yadkin River in both Montgomery and Stanly counties not too far from where my former WRAL colleague Charlie Gaddy grew up. Badin (pronounced BAYD-in) is a lovely lake with sparkling waters. It covers nearly 6,000 acres and was built in 1917 by an aluminum company for hydroelectric power and recreation. Fishermen love the lake for its legendary catfish. In 2003 an angler reeled in an 83 lb. blue catfish from the deep waters of Badin Lake.

Tragedy struck these waters in 1944 when a Navy bomber crashed into the lake. The bodies of the pilot and co-pilot were never found. The military believes the pilot made an unauthorized trip to the area to show off his new plane to in-laws en route to the Cherry Point Marine Air Station. After circling the lake twice the bomber mysteriously plunged into the waters.

The hike around the lake is easy to moderate. We encountered very few hikers but a fair number of fishermen and campers. The trail was mostly well marked though certain segments where somewhat confusing. It was a pleasant journey with one exception – the constant rattle of gunfire on adjacent gameland. At one point I expected bullets to come whizzing through the hardwood forest.

Badin Lake has some wonderful equestrian trails. A horse camp here attracts dozens of families on warm weather weekends.

Cindy did pick up a tick bite here and we saw a small yawning young snake on the trail. Other than that it was pretty peaceful and easygoing.

How many of you have been to Badin Lake? What were your impressions? Please share.


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  • marktheeighth2002 Mar 10, 2009

    When I was a teenager, my Uncle and Aunt owned a lake house on Badin. At that time my mother allowed me to wear her high school class ring from North Wilkesboro. I fell while on water skis and the handle caught the class ring and pulled it off.
    I imagine it is still there.

  • copywritersnc Mar 9, 2009

    That's so neat that you mentioned the story of the navy bomber crash at Badin Lake. My father was a boy then living in Badin and knew the pilot and the whole story of the crash. I'll see if he remembers the details.

  • NASCARMAN Mar 9, 2009

    I grew up in Albemarle and that is a place I would love to go back when I retire. You have Marrow Mountain, Badin Lake and Lake Tillary all together. You could spend days exploring these treasures. The best is the fishing on Badin and Tillary.

  • cfknc Mar 9, 2009

    My wife and I live in Raleigh and own a weekend lake house in Dixie shores on Badin Lake. We think it is one of the best kept secrets around. It is less than two hours from Raleigh and has many great features including Uwharrie National forest, and many great islands on the lake. OUr family spend most weekends on the lake, just like this past weekend.

    Since you bring up this topic you might be interested in a deeper story about the dispute with Alcoa over licensing on the lake. They license is up and they want to significantly change their restrictions, and many homeowners are fighting it for the good of the lake. It has been very recently discovered toxins are being released into the lake as well.

  • uncpir8 Mar 9, 2009

    I actually had my bachelorette party at a friend's house at Badin Lake. It was gorgeous mid-summer, and it was definitely a great place to hang out with the girls, ride jet-skis, attempt to kayak, etc. I hope to be able to go back soon!

  • dalamb Mar 9, 2009

    Bill, we have a house on Badin lake and love it!! A short drive and well worth it.
    We were up there Saturday as well-what a great day to be on the lake!!
    Although, lately Alcoa has been allowed to draw the water down beyond 5 feet full pond and the last 2 summers made the lake unusable. Gov. Bev Perdue expressed personal misgivings and hopefully we will get this fixed so that we can enjoy the water and natural surroundings for many years.

  • blytle Mar 9, 2009

    Well, Bill, you were doing fine until you had to go and mention a snake! That ruined it for me!!! lol!!

  • Hunter Mar 9, 2009

    Beautiful hidden secret. Grew up in Stanly county and also learned to water ski there. If you are in the neighborhood, check out Morrow Mountain State Park. More trails to explore and wonderful views.

  • davidgnews Mar 9, 2009

    I lived in Biscoe in the mid-60s and learned to ski on Baden Lake. Fond memories.

    I hope they keep it clean, as they have had some problems. The islands on it are nice as well.

  • bleslie Mar 9, 2009

    BBQ? Yes, we thought about making a side trip to Lexington but ran out of time. Pottery shopping is also another fine thing to do in this area, marywag.




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