Charlotte is a wonderful mix of the urban mixed in with natural sights. There are amazing locations to hike near the city, including some that are only a few minutes of driving away from the city. There are a lot of options here and plenty to do. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you will find great trails to go hiking near Charlotte.
1. Lake Norman State Park, Lake Shore Trail
This five mile trail along the shore of Lake Norman is beautiful, popular, and has scope for several activities. It’s fairly popular, well-known, and there is a lot of information available for the state park as well as the trail. All of these play well as tips for beginner hikers. At five miles the trail isn’t exactly short, but it isn’t taxing either.
Lake Norman is an artificial lake. Work began on it in 1959 as part of Duke Power Company’s Catawba River power project. It was declared a park in 1962, even though the lake was just being filled. Passing along the shoreline, the trail also touches on the park’s swimming area, giving you another activity to look forward to.
2. Bakers Mountain Park
Bakers Mountain Park isn’t something huge, but the views are unbeatable. The park is spread over 200 acres – a small number, but fun anyway. However, thanks to this being the highest point in Catawba County, the 1,780-foot summit offers strikingly good vistas. Its foothills are home to a chestnut oak forest. Other vegetation and trees are visible as well.
Hikers can enjoy six miles of an extensive trail on their journey in this park.
3. Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area
Rocky Face Mountain in the Brushy Mountains is an enjoyable spot for camping and very amenable to hikers. This area is higher than surrounding areas, sitting 600 feet over its surroundings. That isn’t impressively high, but good enough to give visitors great views of the recreational area. The trek here is about five miles long and is somewhat straightforward. Rocky Mountain is known for black bears and they are very sensitive to smells. So, if you are carrying foods make sure your storage or food cooler is bear-proof.
4. Crowder’s Mountain State Park
Crowders Mountain State Park is a short drive from Charlotte, taking all of 30 minutes to reach it from the city. King’s Pinnacle is perhaps the best-known feature of this park. Standing at 1,705 feet, it towers over its surroundings.
Yet, the altitude is well surmountable for hikers, and the hike itself is just four miles. The hike is not overly steep and can be fully enjoyed as you make your way through the beautiful surroundings. More rugged and strenuous trails are also available for hikers who like a challenge. The park’s cliffs and mountains also offer a chance for rock climbing and bouldering.
In case you don’t fancy taking on the mountain, a simple and easy trail is available along the 9-acre lake in the state park.
5. Buffalo Creek Preserve
This is a lightly trafficked trail. The trail is 2.1 miles trail going out and back, so the total distance for your hike will be 4.2 miles. Spread across an area of 393-acres, the area preserves several streams, ponds, and wetlands.
Hikers on the Buffalo Creek Trail will start at a restored piedmont oak-savannah forest and then move to walk along farm fields. Most of the preserve is used as farmland, though a good part is covered by natural forest. The trail is popular for walking, hiking, and mountain biking.
6. US National Whitewater Center
Covering over 1,300 acres, the US National Whitewater Center claims to be “the world’s premier outdoor facility.” We’ll take that claim with a grain of salt, but there is no denying that the center is full of fun outdoor activities to love and enjoy. There is, in fact, a lot of outdoor adventure activities that can be enjoyed here.
Hikers and bikers will find more than 30 miles of trails to explore and enjoy. The trails are carefully managed to add more to your hiking experience. Trails are marked for novice, intermediate, and expert hikers, so you can take a pick that suits your experience level. Other activities available include kayaking, whitewater rafting, ziplines, rock climbing, paddle boarding, etc.
7. Chimney Rock Park
Chimney Rock is a wonderful site that appears to have come straight out of fiction. This strapping 500 million-year old rock rises above its surroundings for magnificent views. Equally magnificent and exciting is the path to this rock.
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The staircase leading up to the top of the rock is an experience by itself. But once you reach the summit, the flat top of Chimney Rock opens up into a wonderful panorama. This is a rewarding hike and a unique experience that’s definitely worth the effort.
8. Boone’s Cave Park
Boone’s Cave Park covers an area of 100 acres. Ensconced in this area are some exciting trails that go through forests of mixed hardwoods. The park also offers primitive camping and can be a good experience for new or intermediate hikers looking to tackle tougher terrains.
There’s plenty to see here, with 46 acres of the park being designated as a Natural Heritage Site. This area is home to wildflower species that are generally endemic to the Appalachian Mountains.
9. Ridgeline Trail
Ridgeline Trail joins Crowders Mountain State Park in NC to Kings Mountain State Park in SC. The 12-mile trail connects 15,000 acres of parkland in the sibling states. It’s a fun trail with great views and the excitement of hiking to another state on a trail. The trail includes King’s Pinnacle in NC and moves on to the bottomland forest in SC. Campgrounds are available close to both ends of the trail so you don’t have to push yourself to make a return trip.
10. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve has a total of 16 miles of trails open for hikers to explore. Three trails run in interconnected loops and have views of the lake, streams, and forest. Out of the total, three miles of trail are set aside for hiking only. The remaining 13 miles are shared between hikers and horseback riders. Mountain bikes are allowed but must stay on paved roads only.