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Lake Mattamuskeet

A large chunk of Hyde County is underneath Lake Mattamuskeet. At 18 miles across by 6 miles wide, this is the largest natural lake in North Carolina. From April to October the south shore of the lake is a paddle trail.

The trail is 9 miles long and offers views of this beautiful, shallow lake. The lake is closed to boating from November 1 to March 1 for migratory birds . During those months, leave the canoe at home and take the camera instead. Thousands of swans stop over on the lake every year.

Lake Phelps

Washington and Tyrell Counties share the Lake Phelps Paddle Trail, at Pettigrew State Park. This lake is a multiuse area, so be prepared to share the water with everything from power boats to jet skis. Sorry. But it is beautiful, and has camping facilities. It may be worth the noise.

Lake Waccamaw

Almost every resident of North Carolina has been near Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County, we were just too busy trying to make it to Myrtle Beach to notice. That's good, as it keeps the crowds down at this large lake on a state park. Several primitive campsites make Lake Waccamaw an ideal place to be alone and be quiet. And if you are lucky, you might see an alligator.