North Carolina Hiking, Nature August 14, 2017
6 Epic Hiking Spots Around Charlotte That Are Completely Out Of This World
Charlotte, North Carolina is known for its proximity to the great Blue Ridge Mountains and Appalachian Trail, however, many outdoor enthusiasts also know that Charlotte has its own hidden gems when it comes to hiking in the area. You don’t have to travel far to fill your lungs with fresh air and see some gorgeous North Carolina views at the same time. These six locations offer residents and visitors of Charlotte hiking trails with mixed levels of difficulty and unique scenery. No matter the season, be sure to put these on the list for your next hike!
1. Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve
The Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve is a 1,460 acre facility that easily draws in visitors with its 16 miles of hiking trails, a National Wildlife Certified Backyard Habitat Garden and the Carolina Raptor Center, which is home to the Southeast’s largest eagle sanctuary. When you are hiking here, don’t be surprised if you are sharing the trails with some four legged friends. The Latta Plantation Nature Center is the only place in Charlotte where visitors can horseback ride on the hiking trails. In fact, 13 miles of the 16 miles of trails are designated for hiking and horseback riding, while there is a three mile trail declared for hikers only.
2. Crowders Mountain State Park
Located near Kings Mountain, about 20 minutes south of Charlotte, Crowders Mountain is a 5,126 acre state park with 11 hiking trails offering tons of variety for visitors The shortest hiking trail in the park is just under a mile, while those who desire longer hikes can find trails up to seven miles. Pinnacle Peak, one of the park’s most famous trails, offers visitors a moderate to advanced hike with beautiful views from natural rock formations at the top.
3. McDowell Nature Center and Preserve
The McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is Mecklenburg County’s oldest nature preserve. Spanning 1,116 acres, the preserve has more than seven miles of trails ranging in difficulty. While hiking at the McDowell Preserve, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can expect to see some of Charlotte’s best greenery and animal life, combined with scenic views of Lake Wylie in some areas. Open seven days a week, the McDowell Nature Center and Preserve is a must for your next hike.
4. Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve offers hikers 10 miles of trails that weave around various small ponds and rivers and through the quiet Charlotte forest. On any given hike visitors might come across one of the 109 species of birds, 15 species of mammals or more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians that have made the preserve their home. Fishing is allowed at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, and mountain bikers share the trails in some areas, making this a great place for individuals to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities each time they visit.
5. Lake Norman State Park
Roughly an hour’s drive north of Center City Charlotte, Lake Norman State Park is located on the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. This park is a hiker’s dream, as the trails offer many views of the gorgeous Lake Norman as well as many other activities for individuals to enjoy. There are shorter more scenic trails for those seeking a leisurely stroll and more challenging trails that test the most expert hiker’s physical ability. Trails are open to hikers and mountain bikers, and the award winning Lake Shore Trail is a definite must see for those looking for spectacular scenic views!
6. U.S. National White Water Center
The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is one of a kind and a Charlotte staple in the outdoor adventure world. Built around the Catawba River, the USNWC is an outdoor playground for thrill seekers. Visitors can find more than 30 miles of hiking trails offering hikers and bikers of all skill levels many opportunities to push their physical boundaries. In addition to hiking, the USNWC offers other invigorating activities from whitewater rafting and paddle boarding to rock climbing, ziplining and kayaking. Grab your gear and plan to spend a whole day at the White Water Center. We guarantee you won’t want to leave!
Do you have a favorite hiking spot we didn’t mention? Share with us in the comments, and let us know where our next hike should be!