15 places to ‘take a hike’ in Charlotte’s backyard

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Photo courtesy of Atrium Health

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North Carolina provides its residents with some of the most diverse and stunning landscape in the country. North Carolinians are fortunate to enjoy sand dunes and islands on the coast and the Appalachian Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina.

From outstanding beaches to the breathtaking mountains, North Carolina clearly has no shortage of splendor. Charlotteans don’t have to venture far to explore the natural beauty of North Carolina.

Native and new Charlotteans alike can discover and re-experience the regions beauty while trekking through this city’s trails, walkways and paths. For quicker outings outdoors, below is a list of ten convenient walks to take in Charlotte’s backyard:

Anne Springs Close Greenway

Anne Springs Close Greenway is a nature preserve consisting of 2,100 acres including 40 miles of trails. The space is popular for hiking, biking, horseback riding, kayaking and other outdoor adventures.

Anne Springs Close’s children donated the land in honor of her dedication to the environment and recreation for everyone to enjoy. The Main entrances are Adventure Road, Lake Haigler and the Dairy Barn, where supplementary information and trail maps can be found.

Location: Fort Mill, SC
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free for members, $5 for non-members
Dogs: Yes (on leash – they also have a 12-acre dog park)
Stroller-friendly: Besides a paved path at the Dairy Barn entrance, most paths are not stroller friendly.

Clark’s Creek and Mallard Creek Greenways

This is Charlotte’s longest greenway, stretching over 7 miles. It is ideal for jogging, walking, bicycling, rollerblading, skateboarding and even pushing a baby stroller. The western side is paved and weaves through university area neighborhoods. The eastern side is paved and passes through forest, leads under Interstate 85, under US Highway 29 and continues on to the Kirk Farm soccer fields. In the middle, there is a gravel trail, which goes through University Research Park.

Location: Charlotte, NC (University area)
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes
Stroller-friendly: Yes

Little Sugar Creek Greenway

There is a lot going on in this walkway. Walkers, joggers, tourists, nature lovers, cyclists and even those whom just want to relax will enjoy this path. Little Sugar Creek even includes a stream restoration project aimed at enhancing water quality.

The four current main sections of the trail are: Cordelia Park to 12th Street; East Seventh Street to Morehead Street; Morehead Street to Brandywine Road; and Huntingtowne Farms Park.

After completion, the greenway will provide over 19 miles of trails and land connectors. The path will span from Toby Creek Greenway on North Tryon Street to Cordelia Park just north of uptown. The greenway will continue to the South Carolina state line, linking Central Piedmont Community College, Carolinas Medical Center campus, Carolina Place, Park Road shopping areas and many others.

Location: Charlotte, NC (NoDa to South Charlotte)
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes
Stroller-friendly: Yes

Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve

Perfect for hiking, Latta Plantation also has various other facilities including Historic Latta Plantation, The Carolina Raptor Center and the Latta Equestrian Center, a nature center and a pier overlooking Mountain Island Lake. The Preserve also features areas and gardens great for horseback riding, paddling, fishing and picnicking. The preserve has 14 trails ranging from .2 miles to 2.54 miles.

Location: Huntersville, NC
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Trails are free, but Carolina Raptor Center and other amenities are ticketed
Dogs: Yes
Stroller-friendly: Yes, but only on hiking trails.

Upper McAlpine Creek and Campbell Creek Greenway

McAlpine Creek and Campbell Creek will please nature enthusiasts. There are over 180 documented species of birds throughout the trail. Additionally, there are nearby populations of beavers and otters. Visitors are able to enjoy exercising in a wildlife-rich area. Be sure to look for the Lakespur (Delphinium tricorne) around the trail. It is a purple, very rare wildflower that blooms in the spring!

Location: Charlotte, NC (Cotswold area)
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes
Stroller-friendly: Yes

Ridgeline Trail at Crowders Mountain State Park

This trail includes rocky areas from the Kings Pinnacle in North Carolina to bottomland forest almost immediately after crossing the South Carolina state line. Starting from the Crowders Mountain Visitors Center, the trail has a quick, short shoot up to the 1,705-foot Kings Pinnacle.

At the exposed ridge are rocky peaks and small pines. The ridge provides scenic views similar to those offered in western North Carolina. Other areas of the park are dedicated for camping, bouldering, canoeing and more activities.

Location: Kings Mountain, NC
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes (on leash)
Stroller-friendly: Not recommended (several elevation changes and lacking paved surfaces).

Morrow Mountain State Park Trail

The Long Loop is a 16-mile trail that surrounds Morrow Mountain. A portion is designated as Carolina Thread Trail. The park has more than 30 miles of trails that are extending from easy and strenuous.

The state park also has places to fish, canoe, paddle, horseback ride and camp. Various wildlife including bald eagles, osprey, raccoons and deer can be observed throughout the park. There is even a swimming pool open in the summer.

Location: Albemarle, NC
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes (on leash)
Stroller-friendly: Yes (certain trails are paved but most are a natural surface).

Marcia H. Cloninger Rail Trail and South Fork Rail Trail

The Cloninger Rail Trail goes through downtown Lincolnton. The trail is popular among walkers, joggers, bikers and those pushing strollers. There are benches to enjoy along the route. The trail was once a rail line operated by Norfolk Southern. It was abandoned and covered in kudzu and debris before its restoration. Along South Fork Rail Trail, there are views of the South Fork Catawba River.

Location: Lincolnton, NC
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes (on leash)
Stroller-friendly: Yes, the Cloninger Rail Trail (1.7 miles) is paved. The South Fork Rail Trail is 2 miles of crushed stone and natural surface.

Twelve Mile Creek Trail (SC); Twelve Mile Creek Greenway (NC)

This trail has a state crossing and twelve mile creek trail. You can even walk across the North Carolina-South Carolina border on a 170 ft suspension bridge. The trails wind around residential areas with offshoots connecting to numerous neighborhoods.

There are boardwalk sections, bridge crossings and connections to multiple parks including Walnut Creek Park, Harvey Clay Nesbit Park and Towne Creek Park.

Location: Lancaster, SC and Waxhaw, NC
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes (on leash)
Stroller-friendly: Yes (The Town of Waxhaw Segment Trail and trails close to Walnut Creek park are paved).

South Prong Rocky River Greenway/Southeast Greenway/Davidson Greenway

This greenway has a 2.8-mile route. It joins downtown Davidson with neighborhoods to the southeast along the South Prong of the Rocky River. Different owl varieties can be seen and heard in the area.

Location: Davidson, NC
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Free
Dogs: Yes
Stroller-friendly: Yes

*You can also get moving in the Charlotte area at the U.S. National Whitewater Center and in Freedom Park.

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1 COMMENT

  1. McDowell Nature Center serves as the gateway to 1,132 acres of McDowell Nature Preserve and is the resource for educational programs and information on the preserve’s natural communities, flora, and fauna. This oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County protects mostly forested, rolling terrain along the banks of Lake Wylie.

    The Nature Center features live native animals, a discovery hall, and a gift shop. Visitors can stop and observe nature in action at the Ozone Garden or the demonstration compost area, or enjoy a natural play area. Self-interpretive trail guides are available for miles of hiking trails.

    A variety of programs are offered, including paddling tours of Lake Wylie and environmental education courses for all ages.

    https://www.mecknc.gov/parkandrec/stewardshipservices/naturecenters/pages/mcdowell.aspx

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