Valdese Lakeside Park is a forested 300-acre property on Lake Rhodhiss. With help from Friends of the Valdese Rec, the Town of Valdese closed on the land in January 2018. A kayak/canoe launch is on the list of desired amenities as part of the park master plan — created based on public input meetings (left: launch and fishing pier shown in park plan). Phase 1 (driveway, parking lot, restrooms, greenway, overlook) Construction has started.
A kayak/canoe launch at the park will provide public access on the Upper Catawba River Blueway Trail between Huffman Bridge and Castle Bridge. These bridge accesses are both motor craft access points about 5-6 miles apart along the lake (see map below). By vehicle, Valdese residents would have to have to drive to Granite Falls or Morganton to put in their boat on the north side of the lake. Valdese Lakeside Park, in town limits and beside Draughn High School, provides a much closer access point on the south side. (above: location of launch at VLP)
Being a kayak/canoe launch (no trailered motor boats) will promote fishing while exercising. Burke County is the 51st healthiest county in the state, with heart disease as the leading cause of death. Friends of the Valdese Rec is already conducting monthly group walks along the greenway at Valdese Lakeside Park and will conduct activities to promote kayaking and fishing when the launch is in place.
Valdese Lakeside Park is stop number 18 on the Upper Catawba River Trail. We have the signage and kiosk ready to place at the site. (sign pictured to left)
There is funding for Phase 1 amenities from NC PARTF, NC DEQ and private donations. However, construction costs have risen since our fundraising efforts of last year. NCWRC handling the kayak launch and fishing pier will ensure Valdese Lakeside Park provides top notch access for area fishermen within the year. Not only will this launch provide quicker access – a kayak launch at the core of a passive park with people hiking, biking and using the dog park will expose more people to the idea of fishing — who will hopefully become fishermen. Burke County Tourism promotes Lake Rhodhiss as the best fishing in the county. Fishing from the banks of Valdese Lakeside Park rose from a regular 1-2 people a week to 3-4 people a day during the stay at home order. A fishing pier would be a tremendous asset. (above: photo of fish in Lake Rhodhiss by Chris Wood, NCWRC)
Friends of the Valdese Rec and frequent partner Catawba River Wildlife Coalition work to keep this area of Lake Rhodhiss ready for fishermen. In September 2019, a river cleanup by boat yielded 16 bags of trash, 5 tires and other random stuff along a 3 mile paddle. In August 2019, funds were given to an Eagle Scout to make 8 fish attractors that were deployed at Valdese Lakeside Park. The river cleanup by boat was held again in August 2020.
The park will be accessed by Lake Rhodhiss Drive – a paved road open to the public. Visitors currently park in the dirt parking lot and carry their kayak or fishing gear 0.1 mile in to the future launch area. Phase 1 construction this year will include a paved road and parking for 50.