By Ashleigh White
September brings relief from the summer heat offering the perfect weather for run or ride through the Queen City. From cycling groups and run clubs to trails and greenways, Charlotte’s got a lot for an outdoor adventure by foot or bike.
Beer Runs & Run Clubs
Whether you’re in town for business, visiting friends or family, or call Charlotte home, all are invited to join in for fun runs around the city. NoDa Brewing Company hosts a run club with 1, 3 and 5-mile routes through the historic arts district on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. Afterward, cool down and catch up while enjoying food trucks, craft beer and popsicles. Triple C Brewing Co. hosts a run club on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. offering 1-to-5-mile runs through the South End neighborhood.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center also has a 1.5, 3 or 6-mile group run on Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. After running the trails, find a spot along the world’s largest manmade river and grab a craft beer from the River’s Edge Bar & Grill to enjoy live music at the weekly River Jam concert.
Charlotte Running Club and Run with Théoden also offer group running opportunities across the city. Charlotte Running Club has multiple group runs for various paces. For those able to sneak away from the office midday, Charlotte Observer’s pop culture writer Théoden Janes hosts a 6-mile run on Wednesdays at noon leaving from Inside Out Sports in Uptown.
Bike Rides & Cycling Groups
Charlotte’s become known as a bicycle-friendly community with cycling groups of all skill levels meeting almost every day of the week. You don’t need to be training for the Tour de France to join in on the fun; all you need is a bike and helmet. A great way to get started is with CLT Spokes People’s Sunday Slow Riders bike ride. The group also hosts a Tuesday Night Ride starting in the historic Plaza Midwood neighborhood. Another fun ride is Charlotte Critical Mass, a group cycling event that takes place at 7:30 p.m. on the last Friday of every month.
For those who don’t have their own bike, head to the U.S. National Whitewater Center to rent a mountain bike and helmet ($20 for the QuickSport Pass) and explore more than 20 miles of trails with options for all skill levels. You can also pedal your way through the city using Charlotte B-cycle, Charlotte’s bike sharing program. Charlotte B-cycle features more than 200 bikes at 24 stations through Uptown and surrounding neighborhoods that you can rent for 30-minute increments.
Other great cycling resources include Weekly Rides, one of the most complete lists of Charlotte-area bike rides and cycling events searchable by day and skill level, and CycleCLT, a blog with news about the cycling community and social bike rides in the city.
Trails & Loops
Charlotte is home to one of the finest greenway systems in the nation with more than 37 miles of developed paths for walking, running or biking. Built in 1978, McAlpine Creek Greenway is Charlotte’s oldest greenway and the only one where you can find river otters, beavers and mink all in one place. Irwin Creek and Stewart Creek Greenways offer an urban experience near Center City with a nearly 3-mile trail. Just north of the city near UNC Charlotte, Mallard Creek and Clark’s Creek Greenways cover over 7 miles of both paved and gravel trails. One of the most popular greenways in the city, Little Sugar Creek Greenway runs the shadow of Uptown near Central Piedmont Community College and Midtown extending to Freedom Park and beyond.
Many of Charlotte’s greenways are linked to the 217 miles of trails that make up the Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of greenways, trails and blueways that reaches 15 counties, two states and 2.3 million people. Look for the Carolina Thread Trail signs as you run and ride on Charlotte’s beautiful greenways.
If you prefer running or riding solo, try the 3-mile Booty Loop in Myers Park. This scenic route goes by Queens University and beautiful homes along Queens Road West and Selwyn Avenue. The Booty Loop got its name from the 24 Hours of Booty charity cycling event held their each year.
From beer runs to intense training, Charlotte’s got a lot of ways to stay fit while having fun. Next time you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, meet up with visitors and locals for a group run or ride. You’ll probably run into some familiar faces and meet some new ones along the way. Plus, what better way to justify drinking craft beer than to burn all those calories beforehand?
This article ran in the September 2014 issue of Charlotte Happenings.