Cedar Cliff Lake, North Carolina, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Cedar Cliff Lake.

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Cedar Cliff Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - South - North Carolina - Mountains -

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.

Custom Cedar Cliff Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Cedar Cliff Lake

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Cedar Cliff Lake photo gallery

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Cedar Cliff Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Duke Energy Corporation

Surface Area: 121 acres

Shoreline Length: 5 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,198 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 2,330 feet

Average Depth: 89 feet

Maximum Depth: 173 feet

Completion Year: 1952

Drainage Area: 81 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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