• Rob Glover

No Prop, No Paddle, No Problem: 8 Ways to Get on the Water in Gaston

It’s August, and we’re nearing the home stretch of hot weather here in the Carolina Piedmont. If these final weeks of high heat have you wishing for a way to get on the water, but you’re currently without a craft, Gaston County has the answer.

No matter your desired experience, from a high-energy kayak race to getting your zen on a full-moon paddle, you can find rentals, lessons, and competitions all over Gaston.

Stand Up Paddleboarding with Anchored Soul

Image courtesy of Anchored Soul

Stand up paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing sports and recreation activities in the country. In part, it’s because you can have so many different experiences on a board.

There are SUP races for intense competition, and SUP yoga for the ultimate core workout. Or, you can just cruise across the water and feel your stress flow away with each paddle.

Anchored Soul provide all the gear you need to get going. Plus, they offer yoga classes, organized group paddles (try a full moon paddle if you can), and lessons for all levels and ages.

Anchored Soul launches from private property on the Catawba or from Riverside Park on the South Fork.

Paddle, Row, or Ride with Tailrace Marina

Gaston County is lucky to have one of the best sections of the Catawba River running alongside it. This stretch is well-known for its calm, smooth waters and abundant wildlife.

Trailrace Marina offers a wide range of boat rentals, including: kayaks (single and tandem), canoes, standup paddle boards, and pontoons.

All boats are launched from their picturesque property in Mount Holly, conveniently located next to J. R. Cash’s restaurant.

Whitewater Kayaking, Rafting, and Paddleboarding at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Located just across the river, The U.S. National Whitewater Center offers kayak and SUP rental, all launching from their dock on the Catawba River.

But if you’re looking for a little more action, the center is home to an amazing, man-made whitewater river. You can learn to paddle a tiny play boat, tackle the rapids on a guided raft, or even try to stay vertical on your SUP.

The center holds all sorts of races throughout the year, on both the Catawba and the whitewater river.

Luxury Pontoons at Lake Wylie Boat Rentals

Image courtesy of Lake Wylie Boat Rentals

It’s not uncommon to see giant white-winged osprey or even bald eagles soaring above Lake Wylie, diving for fish and even clashing in the sky.

A luxury pontoon from Lake Wylie Boat Rentals is a fantastic perch from which to watch these aerial acrobatics. They offer full, half, and even multi-day rentals


All of their boats are launched from the River District in Belmont (near Aberfoyle Village).

Launch and Learn at Riverside Paddle and Row

Image courtesy of Riverside Paddle and Row

It’s not difficult to hop in a kayak and go. But learning proper paddle technique can make the experience much more enjoyable.

Riverside Paddle and Row offers both private and group lessons as well was kayak and SUP rentals. All conveniently launched from the same marina as Lake Wylie Boat Rentals.

They also host several themed paddle events. On September 7th, for example, Riverside Paddle & Row is teaming up with the Gaston County Museum for a kayak ghost tour.

Cruise the South Fork with Sun’s Up Scuba

Image courtesy of Sun's Up Scuba

Paddling the South Fork River is a more intimate experience than other local rivers and lakes. It’s tree-lined banks provide a quiet escape from everyday commotion.

Sun’s Up Scuba makes it easy to find your zen on the South Fork with a range of kayak and SUP rentals.

All boats are launched near their retail location at South Fork Village. District 8 Beer Company is in the same complex and a perfect spot for post-paddle refreshment.

Fishing at Crowders Mountain State Park

Crowders Mountain State Park is known across the region for its miles of hiking trails and excellent bouldering. But it’s also a great place to fish for crappie from the seven-acre lake.

You can bring your own human or electric-powered boat to Crowders, or you can rent a canoe and tuck into the lake’s shady nooks. Canoe rentals are handled at the visitor center.

Pedal or Paddle at Rankin Lake Park

Rankin Lake Park is still a hidden gem for people outside of Gaston County. Centered around its namesake, 80-acre lake and is surrounded by manicured grounds, fishing piers, a disc golf course, and a 1.5-mile trail.

You have your choice in how your spend your day on the lake. You can hop in a pedal boat for a leisurely spin. Or take out a jon boat or canoe, with or without a motor, and spend some time exploring the lake and searching for bass and crappie at spots not accessible by foot.

A Paddle and a Coffee at The Floating Goat

Image courtesy of The Floating Goat

Coffee shop menus seem to grow daily, offering new and interesting items to lure customers through their doors. But Floyd and Blackie’s Coffee & Ice Cream has something few can match: kayak rentals.

Located on the South Fork River in downtown Cramerton, Floyd and Blackie’s operates a second business from their shop, The Floating Goat. Here, you can rent kayaks for an hour or a day and explore the meandering Southfork.

The kayak launch is next door to the coffee shop. Just call ahead and let them know you’re coming and they’ll have all the gear you need ready and waiting.

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