Wildcat Lake, North Carolina, USA

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

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Looking for Wildcat 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 Wildcat Lake

In 1932 construction of a dam on Wildcat Creek impounded 13-acre Wildcat Lake. Originally created as a reservoir for the hydroelectric plant and an emergency water source for the fire company, Wildcat Lake’s uses have grown to include recreation. Tucked away in Avery County, North Carolina, the self proclaimed “Balcony of the Blue Ridge,” it is no wonder. Near Grandfather Mountain, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain in the high country mountains region, Avery County is one of the most popular tourist destination and second home locations in the southeast. The mountains are etched with trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and there is exceptional downhill skiing making it a playground for all seasons.

Wildcat Lake is in the charming village of Banner Elk. First settled by the native Cherokee Indians, white settlers moved into the area in 1825 and Banner Elk was officially incorporated in 1911. By then it was already a popular tourist destination with visitors flocking to the area to enjoy the clean mountain air and beautiful landscape. Today visitors still come to the “Christmas Tree Capital of the World,” to enjoy the native wildflowers and majestic Appalachian Mountains. Banner Elk maintains its small town charm with quaint shops, fantastic restaurants and a variety of accommodations including historic inns and vacation rentals in the town and surrounding mountains. For visitors that fall in love with the area and want to make their stay permanent, there is real estate available for sale.

The Edgar Tufts Memorial Association (ETMA) owns and maintains Wildcat Lake. Founded in 1923 to support the ministries of the Banner Elk Presbyterian Church, ETMA also helped create Lees-McRae College and runs the Grandfather Home for Children. ETMA maintains Tuft Park on one side of Wildcat Lake, and for 50 years the Presbyterian Church has run a church camp on the other side.

Significant structural issues were discovered in Wildcat Lake Dam, and in 2005 ETMA drained Wildcat Lake for repairs. Tuft’s son Edgar Hall Tuft supervised construction on the original dam using $5,000 and student labor. The repairs undertaken by ETMA took four years, and although student volunteers helped build the new swimming pier and beach, the price tag for the project was $1 million. Wildcat Lake re-opened in 2009 for fishing, boating and swimming. Boating is limited to non-motorized boats along with canoes and kayaks. The Wildlife Resource Commission stocked the lake with 5,000 bluegills, and there are plans to stock largemouth bass and trout. There are picnic facilities at Tufts Park, which combined with the sand beach and child friendly fishing, make Wildcat Lake a great place to spend the day for visitors and residents alike.

Surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest in the northwest mountains of North Carolina, Banner Elk and the other charming villages of Avery County continue to call visitors to the “Balcony of the Blue Ridge.” Wildcat Lake is a beautiful pause in a vacation that can include downhill skiing, hiking, horseback riding and site seeing, and a fantastic place to enjoy all that the high country has to offer.

Things to Do at Wildcat Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Forest
  • Playground

Fish Species Found at Wildcat Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Trout

Find Places to Stay at Wildcat Lake

If you’re considering a Wildcat 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 Wildcat Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Wildcat 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.

Wildcat Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Edgar Tufts Memorial Association

Surface Area: 13 acres

Water Volume: 168 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1932

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.

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