Cedar Cliff Lake, North Carolina, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Cedar Cliff Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Cedar Cliff Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Cedar Cliff Lake

Nestled within the dramatic Blue Ridge Mountains, Cedar Cliff Lake is one of North Carolina’s most picturesque bodies of water. It is thin and elongated, with a surface area of 121 acres and a shoreline length of 4.5 miles. The lake is located in Jackson County, and features a hydroelectric dam on its southern end that was completed in 1952 by Nantahala Power and Light, now Duke Energy. The lake is easy to navigate, and often frequented by boating, canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts.

Cedar Cliff Lake is known for having one of the most impressive populations of largemouth bass in the state. Unlike other lakes in the area, Cedar Cliff Lake is not stocked by North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission. Instead, largemouth bass swim in from the Tuckasegee River. Other fish species that reach impressive sizes in the lake include trout, musky, and smallmouth bass. Anglers also reel in catches of crappie, rock bass, sunfish, and bream. Fishermen recommend trolling sandbars and small streams for trout. A state fishing license is required to fish at Cedar Cliff Lake.

Enveloped by the Nantahala National Forest, hiking is popular at Cedar Cliff Lake – as in most areas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the most notable trails in the region is the Whiteside Mountain National Recreation Trail. Another, the Ellicott Rock Trail, leads up Scaly Mountain. The best time to come is during October, when temperatures are cool and rain is unlikely.

Cedar Cliff Lake also lies within Gorges State Park, a 7,500-acre wonderland previously owned by the Duke Energy Corporation. The government purchased the territory and converted it into a national park in 1999.The park includes a game land area of 2,900 acres that is regulated by the North Carolina Resources Commission. Here visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, boating, hiking and picnicking.

Three other lakes are located near Cedar Cliff Lake, all part of the East Fork (Tuckasegee River) Hydroelectric Project: Bear Creek Lake (476 acres), Wolf Creek Lake (183 acres), and Tenasee Creek Lake (39 acres). All four lakes have dams built by the Nantahala Power and Light Company in the 1940s and 1950s. Nantahala Power and Light is now a division of Duke Energy Corporation. For artists, the Cedar Cliff Dam is a great place to practice amateur photography or painting.

Cedar Cliff Lake has a host of recreational activities suited to visitors of all walks of life. For adrenaline seekers, whitewater rafting is possible along the west fork of the nearby Tuckasegee River. This five-mile stretch of class II-III rapids is ideal for beginners. Tubing is also possible here – and also a great method for bird and wildlife watching.

Families love Cedar Cliff Lake for its many family friendly options. Kids and parents alike enjoy camping at any of the myriad local grounds, which offer everything from summer sports to arts and crafts for children. Mom and Dad can spend the day at a beautiful golf course, and the night relaxing by the lakeside with a good book in hand. Cross country skiing is unbeatable during the winter.

It is easy to forget all your worries at Cedar Cliff Lake. Real estate is available around the lake, including lots with motor boat docks and beautiful sunset vistas. Serene vacation rentals are also plentiful, and sometimes include a boat rental. Visitors often come for a short weekend, but quickly fall in love with Cedar Cliff Lake’s irresistible charm.

Things to Do at Cedar Cliff Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • National Park
  • National Forest

Fish Species Found at Cedar Cliff Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Cedar Cliff Lake

If you’re considering a Cedar Cliff Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Cedar Cliff Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Cedar Cliff Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Cedar Cliff Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Cedar Cliff Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


Advertise Your Cedar Cliff Lake Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.


Looking for the Cedar Cliff Lake Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Cedar Cliff Lake Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Cedar Cliff Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!