Wildcat Lake Beach

Wildcat Lake Beach, NC Mountains

Yes, we have a beach in the mountains! Just a few minutes from Sugar Mountain, Wildcat Lake offers a popular swimming hole complete with white sandy beach, swimming pier, lifeguards and fishing dock. Tufts Memorial Park, located next door, provides a bath house and picnic tables. The beach area is open for swimming during summer months. It’s very family friendly and fun for all ages.

The park and 14-acre lake are owned and maintained by Lees-McRae College, with lifeguards from the Outdoor Recreation Management Program. Admission is free. Groups larger than 25 must contact Wildcat Lake staff at least one week in advance to ensure proper lifeguard staffing.

2023 Hours for Beach Swimming Area
May 29 through August 6 (10 weeks)
Monday–Saturday: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday: 1–6 p.m.

August 7 through October 1 (8 weeks)
Friday–Saturday: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday: 1–6 p.m.

Wildcat Lake Beach Swimming

Find free convenient parking on Hickory Nut Gap Road. Bring your own chairs. Snacks and ice cream are available for purchase. Outdoor equipment rentals (cash or credit card) include volleyball, cornhole, disc golf, hammock, canoes and standup paddleboards.

Picnic Shelters
There is one handicap accessible pavilion available on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are four pavilions by the lake that can be rented in advance. Groups larger than 25 must contact Wildcat Lake at least one week in advance to ensure proper lifeguard staffing. To reserve a pavilion, email wildcatlake@lmc.edu.

Keep in Mind
Please help protect yourself and other visitors by adhering to these policies:

  • Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • No swimming without a lifeguard on duty.
  • No rough or rowdy play.
  • No diving anywhere at Wildcat Lake.
  • No glass of any kind.
  • No running on the Dock.
  • No smoking, vaping, tobacco use, drugs, or alcohol allowed.
  • No littering.
  • No pets or animals, with the exception of registered service animals.
  • Park only in designated areas.
  • Pack out all personal belongings, including trash.

Fishing is allowed from dusk till dawn at Wildcat Lake. Visitors may fish anywhere other than the beach/swimming area. All North Carolina fishing rules and regulations apply. A fishing license is required year-round.

Directions from Sugar Mountain
GPS: 4601 Hickory Nut Gap Rd, Banner Elk, NC 28604
From Sugar Mountain, turn left onto NC 184 at the main entrance. Drive 2.2 miles to Hickory Nut Gap Road. Turn left and drive about a mile.

For more info, go to their website.