Kerr Lake State Recreation Area sign
Camping & Hiking,  North Carolina

Kerr Lake State Recreation Area – Henderson, NC

Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a large park in the North Carolina parks system. Kerr Lake is a 50,000 acre reservoir on the NC/VA border. There are several campgrounds to choose from and plenty of water based fun available. We liked the waterfront campground, wooded sites, and large campground area.

Getting There

Kerr Lake is about 2 hours southwest of Richmond just across the border in North Carolina. From Richmond it’s an easy drive on I-85 (and actually on the way to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area). The park is a little over an hour from Raleigh, and about 3 hours from both Charlotte and Roanoke. Generally there is no entrance fee for day use; holidays and weekends during peak months may differ. We got to the J.C. Cooper campground about 20 minutes before check in. The gate agent was exceptionally nice and, in addition to loading the firewood we bought, let us check in early. He just asked that we hang out in the day use area for a bit before going to our site.


Normally we hike on Saturday morning before spending the afternoon and evening lounging by a fire. This park has 3 miles of hiking trails. That’s it. We didn’t do any real hiking here. We did follow a short trail (Big Poplar) in the woods from the campground road, but either we missed blazes or it wasn’t marked well. However, the campground roads were great for walking the dog, seeing the lake, and were mostly shaded by trees. Because the campground was so large, families tended to go out in a group (if at all). There were fewer kiddos out on bikes and scooters doing lap after lap after lap that often happens on small camping loops.


We stayed at the J.C. Cooper Campground at site 096. This campground has over 100 sites. There isn’t just one giant loop of sites, rather some offshoots and rows. As always, I picked a site that didn’t back up to anyone else, and that worked well. We backed up to a thin row of trees with a meadow on the other side. We did have neighbors on one side that were a little close.

The bathhouse was busy, but regularly cleaned. It had signs up reminding campers that alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the park and could result in charges and a fine. I didn’t see any open containers, but did see multiple insulated mugs in people’s hands. I do not recall these signs at Jordan Lake, but it also has these regulations (appears to be common NC park practice).

Planning a Camping Trip? See our State Park Reviews

There were several waterfront sites – with and without electric hookups. I was eyeing sites 27-30 for their views, and especially site 30. It had a small beach on the water that would be awesome for dipping my feet in the water while reading. Proximity to the water did mean you could hear boats passing up and down the lake. Our first night, our neighbors got up at 3 in the morning to pack their boat and leave for fishing. There is a boat ramp within the campground.

OTHER NC SPOTS: Hiking in Asheville | Jordan Lake State Recreation Area | Seeing Raleigh With A Dog


Sadly there weren’t any breweries within a 15 minute drive from the campground, so we didn’t pop out for a beer excursion. There are a few 25-30 minutes away if you’re willing to go a bit further. Sunday before leaving we stopped at Smithfield’s Chicken ‘N Bar-B-Q in Henderson for lunch and to take some BBQ home. Their pork BBQ is delicious, and a tub of it makes 5-6 sandwiches later.

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