To experience the best of Charlotte, it’s essential to get outside. From manicured parks and winding greenways to wild and scenic places, the city has enough outdoor activities to keep even the most active visitor busy for days. Here are some highlights on Charlotte parks to get you going in the right direction.
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve – Once home to prominent local families, the park is now known for 10 miles of hiking trails. Follow the Robinson Rockhouse Trail, a two-mile out-and-back trail that leads to the ruins of a stone house dating back to 1790. Before heading out for a hike, stop at the Nature Center to view the interpretive exhibits and grab a trail map.
Freedom Park – A perfect example of an urban park, the “Central Park of Charlotte” is a popular setting for picnickers and sunbathers. The biggest draw is the paved trail that circles the lake – when the sun is shining, the trail is bustling with joggers, cyclists and dog-walkers.
Historic Rural Hill – This historic site and working farm boasts three miles of trails that meander through centuries of history. Hike past farm animals, restored buildings and living history demonstrations at the 265-acre park.
Latta Plantation – A former cotton plantation, Latta is now the largest nature preserve in the nation. The 1,343-acre park has 16 miles of trails winding through its hardwood forests. It’s not just hikers taking advantage of the picturesque park: The trails are also open to equestrians. Be sure to check out the original plantation house, which has been converted into a living history farm.
Little Sugar Creek Greenway – Little Sugar Creek runs through several of Charlotte’s most urban neighborhoods, including Uptown. To highlight its natural beauty, the city spent a decade developing a 15-mile greenway that winds along restored riverbanks and past destinations like Central Piedmont Community College and Park Road Shopping Center.
McAlpine Creek Greenway – Constructed in 1978, McAlpine Creek Greenway was the first greenway trail built in North Carolina’s western Piedmont region. With almost nine miles of trails, your options range from paved paths to nature trails. Access the greenway at McAlpine Creek State Park.
The Booty Loop – No one’s quite sure whether this popular path got its nickname because of the well-toned backsides of cyclists who frequent it or because it’s located in the highly affluent Myers Park neighborhood. The 2.8-mile loop has become such a popular fitness route that the Lance Armstrong Foundation uses it as the course for its annual fundraiser, 24 Hours of Booty. Start at the parking lot on the corner of Queens Road and Pembroke Avenue and ride clockwise on Queens Road, Selwyn Avenue, Queens West, Hopedale Avenue and Pembroke Avenue.
U.S. National Whitewater Center – Hailed as the best network of single-track mountain biking trails in the region, the 14 miles of trails are among the most popular features at this famous outdoor recreation facility. The trails wind through the woods and alongside the Catawba River, making your ride (or hike) both beautiful and challenging.