Lake Norman State Park Alder Trail

Lake Norman State Park Trails 10+ Great Tips on Visiting

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Lake Norman State Park is one of the hidden gems in the Lake Norman area; as you drive in, you’ll understand why and observe the gorgeous giant trees and scenic woods that surround the park. You will find miles of beautifully maintained biking trails and serene hiking trails. 

In recent years, they have improved their camping experience as well.  Lake Norman State Park trails are well-maintained, and we love getting out there and enjoying them!

You have free access to launch your boat at their boat ramp, go fishing at several locations within the park, or swim at the beach on Lake Norman.  We have found it’s a great place to bird watch as well; you will find over 25 great blue heron nests. 

Directions to Lake Norman State Park

Lake Norman State Park is located about 40 miles north of Charlotte in Iredell County.  The park is located next to the largest manmade lake in North Carolina and covers about 17 miles of Lake Norman’s shoreline. 

It’s located near Troutman, NC, which can easily be accessed from I-77.  You will take exit 42 off I-77. Then, you will travel 3 miles north on Hwy 21/115 to the first traffic light in downtown Troutman. Take a sharp left onto Wagner St., which will eventually turn into Perth Road.

You will travel about 4 miles and make a right onto State Park Road, which leads you into the park. The actual address is 759 State Park Road, Troutman, NC 28166, which will take you to their visitor center. 

Is there a fee to get into Lake Norman State Park?

There are no access fees to enjoy Lake Norman State Park, with the exception of boat rentals and swim passes for the beach.  For park camping, there are fees for overnight camping in addition to event rentals and event permits.  

Park Hours

November through February: 7 am to 6 pm
March through April: 7 am to 8 pm
May through August: 7 am to 9 pm
September through October: 7 am to 8 pm 

24-hour access to the campground and boat launch is available through the entrance on St. Johns Road.  From the intersection of Old Mountain Road and East Monbo Road in the Troutman area, travel south approximately 4.3 miles on East Monbo Road to St. Johns Road. Turn left onto St. Johns Road and go 0.5 miles to State Park Road. Follow the signs for the campgrounds.

Visitor Center Hours at Lake Norman State Park 

Open daily, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The park is closed on Christmas Day; they are open during all other holidays.

Here are several Lake Norman State Park photos

Lake Norman State Park Visitors Center
Lake Norman State Park Visitors Center

Are dogs allowed at Lake Norman State Park?

Dogs are allowed at the park and at the campsites.  They will not be permitted on the beach or inside any of their buildings, including their cabin rentals.  Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet long at all times.

Lake Norman State Park Trails
& Things to do


You will find nine biking/hiking trails in Lake Norman State Park. The park is a very popular mountain biking location.   The trails below are marked for both biking and hiking, but bikes have the right of way. 

Please note the bike trails are closed at times for construction, poor trail conditions due to weather, or other reasons for both visitor safety and the protection of the trail and natural resources. Trails are expensive to construct, maintain, and repair.

Please check the Lake Norman State Park’s website for closing information.

Trail NameBlazeLengthDifficultyTrail Use
Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds30.5-mile loopEasy to moderateBiking, hiking
Hawk Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds3-mile loopEasy to moderateBiking, hiking
Hicks Creek Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds1-mile loopEasyBiking, hiking
Norwood Creek Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds2.5-mile loopEasy to moderateBiking, hiking
Monbo Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds6.25-mile loopEasy to moderateBiking, hiking
Laurel Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds9.75-mile loopModerateBiking, hiking
Wildlife Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds4.25-mile loopEasy to moderateBiking, hiking
Fallstown Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds1.25-mile loopEasyBiking, hiking
Fox Loop on Itusi Bike Trailblue diamonds2.5-mile loopEasy to moderateBiking, hiking


In addition to the biking trails, they also have six hiking-only trails; bikes are not allowed on these trails.  You will find access to these trails throughout, but the moderate trails are accessible by the group camping sites, campground, and parking off of Shortleaf Dr.

The Alder and Dragonfly trails are easier trails and are located near the Visitor center.  If you are camping at Lake Norman State Park, you will be able to walk to the hiking trails from your site.     

Lake Norman State Park Alder Trail Map
Alder Trail
Lake Norman State Park Alder Trail
Alder Trail
Trail NameBlazeLengthDifficultyTrail Use
Alder Trailwhite diamonds0.8-mile loopEasyHiking
Dragonfly Trailpaved path0.25-mile loopEasyHiking
Lake Shore Trailwhite diamonds5-mile loopModerateHiking
Hike: Lake Shore Trail loop, then out-and-back on Group Camp Spur Trailred diamonds6.3-mile loopModerateHiking
Hike / K.I.P. Track Trail: Lake Shore Trail north (towards swim beach) then turn right on Short Turn Trailred diamonds2.6-mile loopModerateHiking
Hike / K.I.P. Track Trail: Lake Shore Trail north (towards swim beach), then turn right on Short Turn Trailred diamonds3.2-mile loopModerateHiking


Currently, the park is renting pedal boats and canoes daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The boats are rented on a first-come, first-served basis; they don’t take reservations.  

Lake Norman State Park Boat Rental

In addition, if you have your own boat, they do have one of the many Lake Norman boat ramps available to launch your boat onto Lake Norman, and you can access this 24 hours a day through the entrance on St. Johns Road.  

The water level on Lake Norman varies throughout the year; make sure to know the lake and where you are driving, as you will come across several shoals.

Lake Norman water temperatures can also range; in the summer, average temperatures can get into the 80s F during July and down into the 30s F during winter months.


You will find several locations to fish; they even have a couple of fishing piers. Don’t forget your fishing license! Fish you can find in Lake Norman include black crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead, carp, channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, perch, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, walleye, white bass, white crappie, yellow perch.  


Picnic tables are offered throughout the park.  They are available on a first-come basis and no reservation is required.  In the wooded areas, you will find some picnic tables that include a grill nearby.  The popular picnic spots will be near the swimming area/beach area. 

They also have numerous shelters throughout the park that you can rent.  You can find picnic tables near the visitor’s center as well.  We also recommend taking a hike along the Lake Shore Trail and finding a place near the lake to eat, just bring your own blanket!  

Lake Norman State Park Pavillon

Swimming in Lake Norman

Does Lake Norman have public beaches? You cannot find many beaches on Lake Norman but you do get access at Lake Norman State Park.  There is a beach fee though.  The beach area does have lockers, showers, and a concession area (open seasonally). 

Lake Norman State Park Beach


If you love birds, you will find lots of locations to view them here.  Near the water by the visitor’s center, we watched several Great Blue Herons fishing for their dinner. On Lake Norman, you will find rookeries like Heron Island that have over 60 and 80 great blue heron nests.  

Great Blue Heron

Does Lake Norman have camping?

There are 44 campsites located within Lake Norman State Park. These sites are open to a maximum of 6 people per campsite.

The campground has a bathhouse with toilets and hot showers available. There are three potable water spigots for campers to use as well. 

A dump station is also provided (non-campers can pay a $20 fee to use it).

All campsites have a picnic table and a fire ring with a grill cover.

Sites 1 to 32 are paved, with a tent pad measuring 15 feet by 12 feet. These sites do not have water, electric, or sewer hookups.

Sites 34 to 44 are paved, and each has a picnic pad. These sites have hookups for electric (30- and 50-amp service available), water, and sewer.

Sites 31 (no hookups) and 39 (with hookups) are accessible to people with limited mobility or disabilities.

Does Lake Norman State Park have cabins?

Six cabins are also located at the campground.

Each cabin can accommodate up to six people; one bedroom has a double bed and the other room sleeps four with two sets of twin-sized bunk beds.

Campers must bring their own pillows and sleeping bags or linens, as these are not provided. The cabins have electric outlets and a heating and air-conditioning unit. 

There are no restrooms inside the cabin, and campers must use the nearby bathhouse and water spigots. A picnic table, fire ring, and a lantern hook are provided at each cabin.

Cabin 1 is accessible to people with limited mobility or disabilities. Please do not reserve an accessible site if no one in your group needs it unless it is the only site left available when you are making your reservation.

Smoking, cooking, and open flames are not permitted inside any of the cabins. Pets are not allowed in the cabins, with the exception of service animals. Each cabin has a parking space for two vehicles only.

How much does it cost to camp at Lake Norman State Park?

There are a total of 44 campsites at Lake Norman State Park. 

Primitive sites 1 to 32 (no water, electric, or sewer) $26 a night
Full Hookup sites 34 to 44 (30-amp and 50-amp service available, water, and sewer) $36 a night. 
Cabins (total of 6) $55 a night

Bathrooms at Lake Norman State Park Campground

The campground has a bathhouse with toilets and hot showers available.  You will find additional bathrooms near the Visitors Center as well as the beach swimming area.

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace is about making good decisions to protect the world around you — the world we all enjoy. Take your time to read about The Seven Principles and do your part in caring for North Carolina state parks and trails.

Does Lake Norman have alligators?

Alligators are not known to exist in either the Lake Norman area or on the Catawba River.  There were reports back in 2000 that alligators were “removed” by wildlife control. 

Are there bears at Lake Norman State Park?

It’s pretty rare for a bear sighting near Lake Norman, but black bears have been seen in the area.

Educational exhibits

Inside the Visitors Center, you will find educational exhibits inside. In addition, on the child-friendly Dragonfly Trail, you will find activities for young children and adults that pertain to the plants and wildlife in the area. 

The Dragonfly Trail is paved; it’s perfect for little ones and strollers and is also handicapped accessible.  The trail starts at the Visitors Center and leads to an overlook.    

Also, every year, the NC State Parks celebrate a theme.  In 2022, it’s the Year of the Tree.  They provide programs and events. Lake Norman State Park hosts numerous educational events throughout the year. 

Junior Ranger Program

Pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Guide at the visitor center.  Kids visiting the park for the day can complete activities in the guide, attend park-led programs, complete small community service projects given by park staff, participate in the EcoExplore program, and hike in the park.

Doing these activities earns acorns. Upon catching 20 acorn points, Junior Rangers can receive the park’s unique Junior Ranger patch.

Electric Vehicle Charging

Located at the Visitors Center, you will find 2 EV parking and charging stations.

Weather in Lake Norman

In the Piedmont region of North Carolina, we still experience all four seasons.  We love the weather at Lake Norman because we get a more mild winter!

Spring usually comes around in April.  There are so many flowering trees in the area to enjoy, like cherry blossoms and redbuds.  The temperatures can range anywhere between the high 50s F to the 70s F.  

In the summer, average temperatures range from the mid-80s F to the 90s F.  It’s a great time to enjoy boating and swimming in Lake Norman.  Be prepared for the humidity.  The most humid months will be from June to September.  

Fall is always beautiful as it starts to cool down from the summer heat.  Most days will range in the mid-50s F to high 60s F.  It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage and get some hiking in.  

In the winter, some years we might see some snow, but usually, it’s an icy mix.  On average, Lake Norman gets around 3 inches of snow per year.  It’s not all that common.  The temperature range will be in the 30s F to low 50s F normally. 

The beautiful thing is the sun is usually still shining throughout winter.  We used to live in Wisconsin, where we wouldn’t see the sun for months, it seemed.  I would say the coldest months go by pretty quickly, which are normally January and February. 

Lake Norman Aerial Shot

The Best Time to Visit Lake Norman

We would recommend between May and October; it really depends on what activities you are looking to enjoy.  If you want to get away for summer for swimming and boating, Lake Norman is your place to be! You’ll find lots of boat rentals on Lake Norman as well.  

If you are looking for a hotel in Mooresville, we have you covered!!

History of Lake Norman

Lake Norman is actually a man-made lake and the largest in North Carolina. It was created between 1959 and 1964 for the construction of the Cowans Ford Dam, which was owned by Duke Energy. Catawba River feeds into Lake Norman.

There are many areas to explore on this lake as it offers 520 miles of shoreline. 1,328 acres of Lake Norman State Park were donated by Duke Energy back in 1962.

Lake Norman was named after Norman Atwater Cocke, former president of Duke Energy. You will find eight public boating access areas along the shoreline that are free to use.

Original map of Catawba River
Here is a map of the “State of North Carolina”; 1958; U.S. Geological Survey.
Archived by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Highlighting how it was just the Catawba River at the time.

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