Lookout Shoals Lake, North Carolina, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - North Carolina - Piedmont -

Also known as:  Lake Lookout, Lookout Shoals Reservoir

Lookout Shoals Lake is a lakefront living gem in North Carolina’s Piedmont region. The 1,300-acre reservoir is known affectionately as Lake Lookout to the many residents who live in the area’s gated communities. Created along the Catawba River between Lake Hickory and Lake Norman, the reservoir’s main purpose is hydropower generation. Now, it is also being eyed as a major source of water for the City of Statesville about ten miles away.

The long, irregular shoreline consists of many narrow coves and arms, giving the lake a feeling of endless, meandering waters. Nearly 40% of the shoreline is designated for preservation, with a similar amount devoted to housing development. Most homesites on the waterfront are over an acre, and homes are sited well back from the shore. Some developments have permits for their own waterfront docks, while other developments have communal docks with boat slips. The 1,300 acres of water provide plenty of space for waterskiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, swimming, pontooning and sailing. The narrow arms and coves lend themselves to kayaking and canoeing.

There are no public beaches at Lookout Shoals Lake, but the public has access by way of two boat launch locations that Duke Energy maintains in conjunction with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. The lake is a popular spot for anglers seeking largemouth bass, crappie, panfish and several varieties of catfish. Striped bass are stocked yearly. The Wildlife Resource Commission has worked diligently to enhance fish habitat, improving native aquatic vegetation stands to promote spawning and food sources. Fishing tournaments are held at the reservoir on a regular basis. A special canoe launch site is located below the Lake Hickory Dam at Catawba County’s Riverbend Park for floating the stretch of river down into Lookout Shoals Lake. An angler’s trail provides bank fishing.

Duke Energy relicensing documents state that future projects include improving the Sharon Access Area and the Lookout Shoals Access Area to add restrooms, more parking and better launch facilities. Another access point at the upper end of the lake will be developed which includes primitive camping. A walking and hiking trail will be developed from Riverbend Park along the lakeshore down to the new access area. A tailrace fishing area will be created, with a portage path around the Lookout Shoals Dam. Riverbend Park itself covers 450 acres, with 12 miles of trails winding among upland forest and wetland wildlife habitat. A small fishing lake allows pond fishing.

Lookout Shoals Lake’s location makes it a popular residential area for those who work in nearby Statesville or Hickory. The lake is less than an hour from Charlotte. Because the primary purpose of the reservoir is to produce electrical power, water levels often vary. In recent years, too much water has been more of a problem than low water levels; heavier-than-normal local rains caused flooding in low-lying areas where the lake rose over the banks. Required setbacks keep homes safely above the reach of high water, but some roads were flooded. Duke Energy is working with local stakeholders to maintain better stability of water levels in such instances, but it isn’t uncommon to have the water level vary by six feet.

Both Statesville to the east and Hickory to the west of Lookout Shoals Lake offer a wide variety of lodgings, restaurants and local attractions. Several museums detail the rich history of central North Carolina and Catawba County. Restored 18th century mansions, covered bridges and locations of interest are spread throughout the county. Statesville’s Iredell Museums feature both contemporary art exhibits and activities for kids guaranteed to promote fun and learning.

One of the more unusual locations to visit is the small town of Hiddenite, located north of Statesville. Here visitors can visit the Hiddenite Center, featuring a restored home on the National Registry of Historic Places. The center holds ever-changing art exhibits, ballroom dancing classes, square dancing and events reflecting the history of the region. Also in the small town of Hiddenite, the Emerald Hollow Mine is open for public ‘prospecting’. Besides emeralds, the unique geological area holds sapphire, garnet, aquamarine, topaz, rutile, amethyst, tourmaline, citrine, clear and smoky quartz crystals along with the exceedingly rare Hiddenite-found only in this location. Educational tours are offered, and a gift shop and lapidary service offer found gemstones both raw and in unique settings. A commercial campground nearby makes this the ideal family vacation stay.

Many small inns, bed & breakfasts and guest cottages are available in the area surrounding Lookout Shoals Lake, although lodgings on the lake itself may be hard to find. Real estate is still available, although not many more building sites remain. Not nearly as busy and densely-populated as Lake Norman or Lake Hickory, Lookout Shoals Lake won’t remain a secret much longer. Bring the canoe and the fishing gear and stop by for a day. You’ll find much to love at Lake Lookout and in the surrounding area.

Things to do at Lookout Shoals Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lookout Shoals Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Striped Bass

Lookout Shoals Lake Photo Gallery

Lookout Shoals Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Duke Energy

Surface Area: 1,305 acres

Shoreline Length: 27 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 838 feet

Average Depth: 24 feet

Water Volume: 24,995 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1916

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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