One of the best things about living in Charlotte is how centrally located we are to some of North and South Carolina’s most amazing state parks. If you enjoy hiking, swimming, boating or taking nature walks, you’re in luck because there are plenty of places to explore less than a two hour drive from the Queen City. Here’s a list of our favorites, organized from closest to Charlotte to furthest. Hop in the car one of these upcoming fall weekends to get some great exercise and see some spectacular views and scenery!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Crowders Mountain State Park
Crowders Mountain State Park is located in Kings Mountain, N.C., which is about a 45 minute drive from Charlotte. Crowders Mountain is the closest state park to our city and is well-known by Charlotte area residents.
Crowders Mountain State Park offers visitors 11 amazing hiking trails that range in levels of difficulty.
Two of the most popular trails at Crowders Mountain State Park are the Pinnacle Trail and the Crowders Mountain Trail that are challenging uphill climbs leading to a birdseye view of the beautiful Piedmont area below. This view from the Pinnacle Trail is one of the most desired views by hikers. Any given weekend the park will be packed with people trying to make it to the top of the mountain and partake in its natural beauty.
If you are a beginner hiker, it may take few tries to achieve the Pinnacle or Crowders Trail, but we promise you it's worth the endurance.
When you get to the mountain top looking over the hills of North Carolina, you'll feel like you are on top of the world and can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Address: 522 Park Office Ln., Kings Mountain, NC 28086
2. Lake Norman State Park
Lake Norman State Park is located in Troutman, N.C. about an hour's drive north of Charlotte.
If you love being out on the water or the sound of gentle waves lapping the beach then this park is for you.
Lake Norman State Park offers guests tons of outdoor activities like hiking, swimming and camping. Additionally, Lake Norman State Park has become a popular place for mountain biking and has 30.5 miles of single track trail for bikers.
A public beach area lets visitors swim or sunbathe at the park.
Because this park is on the lake, it's a great place for family cookouts or picnics near the water.
Address: 759 State Park Rd., Troutman, N.C. 28166
3. Andrew Jackson State Park
Andrew Jackson State Park is located in Lancaster County, S.C., approximately an hour south of Charlotte. This park is one for the history buff's in your group, as it is dedicated to the life of U.S. President Andrew Jackson, who was from this area.
The park has an amazing museum on the property that tells you everything you wanted to know about Commander in Chief Andrew Jackson.
It also has replicated buildings and scenery to look like what it might have when Andrew was a young boy.
The park offers guided tours and educational sessions for children throughout the year. This is a great place to keep your little ones occupied and having a great time learning about American history.
Andrew Jackson State Park also has many fun outdoor activities for the whole family.
Hiking trails, fishing, bird watching and geocaching are just a few of the things you can while visiting this awesome park.
Address:196 Andrew Jackson Park Rd., Lancaster, S.C. 29720
4. Morrow Mountain State Park
There is nothing more peaceful than enjoying a quiet lunch in the fresh air during your hike or just stopping to take in the fabulous view.
Address: 49104 Morrow Mountain Rd., Albemarle, N.C. 28001
Morrow Mountain is one of the highest peaks in the Uwharrie Mountains.
If you hike to the top, you'll have an awesome view of the Central Piedmont countryside and the Yadkin Pee-Dee River which runs through it.
Picnic shelters like these exist throughout the state park.
There is nothing more peaceful then enjoying a quiet lunch in the fresh air during your hike or just stopping to take in the fabulous view.
Address: 49104 Morrow Mountain Rd., Albemarle, N.C. 28001
5. South Mountains State Park
South Mountains State Park is located in the mountains of Connolly Springs, N.C. and is roughly an hour and a half drive from Charlotte.
Known for its amazing High Shoals Water Fall and various streams that run through the property, this park is a popular fishing and hiking destination for true outdoor enthusiasts.
High Shoals Falls is a sight to see for visitors. Formed by the Jacob Fork River plunging 80 ft. down natural rock formations in the forest, this falls creates a beautiful pool below and is a fantastic sight.
The park offers more than 40 miles of hiking trails with elevations of up to 3,000 ft.
Often times the park will hold fly fishing classes for those who want to learn the best ways to catch trout in the natural streams of the park. This magical place may be a little bit further, but it is well worth the drive.
Address: 3001 S. Mountain Park, Connelly Springs, N.C. 28612
6. Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park is the farthest on our list located in Chimney Rock, N.C., about two hours from the Queen City. Visitors travel from all over the state to see Chimney Rock Park's famous 315-foot rock formation -Chimney Rock - that offers amazing 360 degree views of the park.
Chimney Rock State Park offers hiking, camping, swimming and picnicking to visitors.
The park is also known for rock climbing where experienced rock climbers can rappel down some of the park's amazing rock formations.
Hickory Nut Falls is also a major attraction at the park.
The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is a moderate 1.5 mile loop that will take hikers to the base of the falls and back out when ready.
Chimney Rock is an amazing experience for those who truly love a mountain setting. Make it a day trip or spend the weekend camping - either way you'll be glad you did! Address: 431 Main St., Chimney Rock, N.C. 28720
What’s your favorite state park you’ve ever been to? Tell us in the comments. Enjoy!