Wildcat Lake

Join us for opening day on Monday, May 30!

The college proudly maintains historic Wildcat Lake for the local community and visitors to the area. This premier High Country attraction features a white sand beach with a swimming area, and two docks for fishing and wildlife observation. In addition, there are four rental shelters with grills, perfect for family gatherings or summer parties. Nearby are a volleyball court, playground sets, and public restrooms. 

Summer Hours

The lake is open for swimming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Professional lifeguards provided by the Williams YMCA of Avery County are on duty seven days a week throughout most of the summer. Groups larger than 25 must contact Wildcat Lake at least one week in advance to ensure proper lifeguard staffing.

May 30 through August 7 (10 weeks)
Monday–Saturday: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday: 1–6 p.m.

August 8 through September 5 (4 weeks)
Saturday: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday: 1–6 p.m.
Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5): 11 a.m.–6 p.m.


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.


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 for $50 a day. 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.

Pavilion 1
5 covered picnic tables, electricity, 5 additional tables and a grill; non-adjacent parking

Pavilion 2
7 covered picnic tables, 4 additional tables and a grill; non-adjacent parking; nearest to the dam

Pavilion 3
2 covered picnic tables and a grill; no electricity; adjacent parking off Hickory Nut Gap Rd.

Pavilion 4
5 covered picnic tables and a grill, no electricity; adjacent parking from parking lot

History of Wildcat Lake

Wildcat Lake was created in 1933 after a devastating drought decreased the water supply to the power plant that supplied electricity to the college and the community. The funds to dam Wildcat Stream and build the lake came from donors, including a $2,000 donation from The Duke Endowment. Under the management of the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association, Wildcat Lake became a top family destination for more than 50,000 locals and visitors each year.


With questions, email wildcatlake@lmc.edu.