The weather is getting cooler and the leaves on the trees are finally changing from their bright summer greens to the brilliant red, orange and yellow hues that North Carolina autumns are famous for. This is the perfect time of year to spend some time out doors taking in the fresh crisp air and the beautiful landscape before winter.
There are plenty of hiking trails in and around the QC that will let you take in the beautiful fall sights while getting some great exercise in the process. Here are a few of our favorites:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The Turnback Trail at Crowders Mountain
The Turnback Trail at Crowders Mountain is a moderately easy 1.2-mile trail that takes you through the woods of Crowders Mountain State Park and will let you enjoy the beautiful fall scenery as you walk along.
The Turnback Trail is a perfect hike for beginners or those who just want to take a leisurely nature stroll.
If you get out on the trail and decide you want to go further, you have the option of taking the Fern Trail or the Pinnacle Trail - both trails meet the Turnback Trail. The Fern Trail is a 0.8-mile easy option that follows a beautiful creek at some points during the hike. The Pinnacle Trail is a more strenuous choice, however, if you are able to take this hike we definitely recommend it. You'll be led to King's Pinnacle, the highest point in Gaston County, where you can see some of the most amazing views of the forest down below.
2. The Alder Trail at Lake Norman State Park
What could be better than enjoying beautiful fall foliage against the backdrop of one of Charlotte's favorite lakes?
This is the kind of scenery you will experience when you hike the Alder Trail at Lake Norman State Park.
This scenic path will take you through an easy 0.8 miles of beautiful lakeside views and easy walking. If you feel like continuing your hike after you are finished with the Alder Trail, try your luck at the park's Lakeside Trail, a moderate 6.2-mile trail (there's also a shortcut to make it 3 miles if you aren't up for 6 yet), that has been voted one of Charlotte's "Must See" trails due to it's beautiful views and scenery.
3. The U.S. National Whitewater Center
The U.S. National Whitewater Center has more than 30 miles of singletrack trails showcasing the beautiful scenery along the Catawba River near Charlotte. This is the perfect place to go to experience some of our city's beautiful fall foliage and escape from the hustle and bustle of Uptown Charlotte life.
From easy to moderate to advanced, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is guaranteed to have the trail for your skill level.
Dogs are allowed on the trails, so bring your walking buddy along for the ride. And, if you're into mountain biking, there are plenty of trails that offer some of the best riding around. Put this place on your list for hiking this fall.
4. The Charlotte Trails at McDowell Nature Preserve
The McDowell Nature Preserve is a great hiking spot located near Lake Wylie, just 30 minutes outside of Charlotte. Offering nine trails all ranged from easy to moderate, this is an awesome place for new hikers to test their abilities.
The Charlotte Trails at the McDowell Nature Preserve is one of the easiest, at 2.3 miles.
A moderately trafficked trail, the Charlotte Trails offers great lakeside views, bird watching, and views of the stunning fall foliage throughout the park.
5. The Reedy Creek Nature Preserve Trail
The Reedy Creek Nature Preserve Trail is a great 3.1-mile trail at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve that is perfect for all skill levels. Offering beautiful lakeside views as well as fascinating flora and fauna surrounding the lake, this trail is often a favorite of those who hike here.
This trail is open all year around and is a great place to take the kids for a fun fall or winter activity.
In addition to hiking trails, Reedy Creek Nature Preserve has a dog park, picnic shelters, two playgrounds, volleyball courts, and more.
6. The Boardwalk Trail at Congaree National Park
The Boardwalk Trail at Congaree National Park is an awesome way to see some beautiful scenery without having to take a strenuous hike. If you take this trail, you will experience the flat surface of the boardwalk the whole time, and there will be plenty of spots where you can stop and take in your beautiful surroundings.
Congaree National Park is truly unique in that it preserves the largest tract of old growth, bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States.
The forest is stunning and you'll be amazed at how the hardwood trees thrive in this beautiful South Carolina Park. This trail must go on your list for hiking this fall or winter; we promise you'll be absolutely amazed by its beauty!
7. The Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
The Latta Plantation Nature Preserve offers visitors 16 miles of easy to moderate trails that will take you around the plantation property and give you some amazing views of the lake, forests, and streams that make this place so amazing. This is also one of the few hiking locations in Charlotte that allows horses on the trails, so be prepared to see a few of the lovely giants go by as you are walking the paths.
After you are done hiking, tour the historic Latta Plantation and learn about the people who used to live and work regularly on the plantation.
The Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is a great place to take the kids this fall too, so head out this weekend for fun!
Where’s your favorite fall hike in Charlotte? Tell us in the comments! And don’t forget to share your photos of the stunning spots you visit on the
Only In Charlotte Facebook page or on Instagram ( @onlyincharlotte) using #onlyincharlotte for a chance to see you photos featured!