From scenic walking paths and mountain biking trails to state parks and whitewater rafting there are so many ways to get fit, active, and healthy in and near Gastonia. We consulted with the doctors and staff at ORTHOCAROLINA’S Gastonia Office at 870 Summit Crossing Pl. as our March experts on Locals Living the Healthy Life, The Gastonia Edition to create a list of the best places in the area to Be Healthy!

Best Places to Walk/Bike/Run in Gastonia/Belmont

Whether you like walking, running, or biking, you can do it all on the Seven Oaks Preserve Trail, which is part of the popular Carolina Thread Trail. The 2.8-mile trail follows along parts of the Lake Wylie shoreline that have never been developed, giving visitors unique views of the tranquil area, while also providing a great place to get in some cardio. For anyone who wants to add some more milage to their workout, the Seven Oaks Trail also connects to some of the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden trails, which creates a five-mile walking loop.

For more of an uphill challenge consider taking a hike at Crowders Mountain State Park located in Gaston County. The park offers 11 different hiking trails that range in difficulty from easy all the way up to strenuous. Depending on the trail, hikers will reach one of two peaks — The Pinnacle and Crowders Mountain — that both offer panoramic views of the landscape below. On clear days it’s said that hikers can see for almost 25 miles or more.

Best Places to Walk Your Dog in Gastonia/Belmont

The five-acre Poston Dog Park is the ultimate playground for all the doggos in town. It features two separate fenced-in areas that are designed to keep smaller pups and larger breeds apart. One acre is dedicated to dogs under 25 lbs. and the other four acres are allotted for dogs that weigh over 25 lbs. to roam. Poston Dog Park is open from 7 a.m. to sunset every day.

The Goat Island Park and Greenway in nearby Cramerton not only has a .7-mile asphalt walking path that’s convenient for a leisurely stroll with your favorite four-legged friend, but it also has its very own designated off-leash dog park.

Most Underrated or Unknown Exercise Options in Gastonia/Belmont

Gaston Country Parks & Recreation offers several different adult athletic leagues each season. Joining a team is a great way to get out and stay active, while also socializing and meeting new people in the community. Available leagues include volleyball, co-ed softball, kickball, dodgeball, and basketball.

Best Free or Almost Free Fitness in the Area

You don’t have to own your own kayak or canoe to get out on the water and enjoy a day paddling around. Rankin Lake Park rents out kayaks and canoes for as low as $4 an hour — and with approximately 80-acres of lake to cover, your arms are sure to get a major workout.

Best Nearby Outdoor Activities for Families

The popular U.S. National Whitewater Center is just a short drive from the Gastonia area and provides families with a multitude of exciting outdoor activities to choose from. With everything from rock climbing and whitewater rafting to zip-lining and paddle-boarding there’s surely something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

The Goat Island Park and Greenway can provide an entire day of fun for families with children of all ages. Park amenities include two playgrounds that are separated for kids ages 1-4 and 5-12. Each playground is full of jungle gym equipment, swings, and seesaws. There are also permanent ping pong tables and corn hole courts as well as an 18-hole disc golf course, fitness equipment, and a fishing pier for visitors who want to spend the day casting a line.

Best Nearby Outdoor Activities for Dates

For a truly unique date night experience sign up for Zipline and Dine at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where dinner is more of an adventure than just a meal. During the experience couples will get to soar across the center’s longest zipline and conquer a number of ropes course challenges together before settling down to a chef-prepared, three-course meal. Another option is to pack a picnic blanket and snuggle up under the starry skies while listening to live music at one of USNWC’s weekly River Jams that happen throughout the summer. You can always go a little early and add a little extra excitement to the date by getting your adrenaline pumping by climbing the rock wall or doing one of the various jumps available.

Best Neighborhood Studios in Gastonia/Belmont

Belmont’s Simply is a yoga, massage, and wellness studio that has a class to suit anyone, no matter the skill level. The studio offers a number of different classes for participants ranging from a relaxing meditation class and deep stretching all the way to their Power + class that incorporates high-intensity aerobic moves into poses. Simply also offers yoga classes designated for kids as well as summer camps. New to yoga, but want to try it? New students can purchase a two-week trails for 20 and they have rental mats and towels available for you to use. Monthly memberships start as low as $39.

Open 24/7, Ultimate Fitness gives members with even the busiest of schedules the freedom to workout whenever they can fit in a quick session. The gym features a variety of ways to work out with a large selection of cardiovascular equipment, and several group fitness classes that range from bootcamps and aerobics classes to yoga. Plus, Ultimate Fitness offers personal training services, and even nutritional help. Memberships are as low as $25 a month.

Best Vegetarian/Vegan/Juice Restaurant in Gastonia/Belmont

Locals can get their juice fix and more at Belmont’s Juice Bar where you’ll find a wide selection of healthy eating options that include plenty of fresh juices, smoothies, acai bowls, and power shots. The Juice Bar menu also features several vegan and vegetarian options like quinoa bowls, spring rolls, overnight oats, seasonal soups, and sandwiches.

Diner’s will find that there’s no shortage of delicious vegan and vegetarian options on the menu at Sprouts Cafe in Gastonia. Menu items include a myriad of fresh garden lettuce wraps, vegan burgers, soups, quinoa bowls, and hearty salads. They also serve breakfast with an impressive list of options like a vegetarian Benedict and vegan pancakes.

Best Place to Eat After Your Workout

After a workout stop by downtown Belmont and dine at The String Bean Southern Bistro and Market. The menu has something to enjoy whether you just want to nosh on a small snack like their steamed edamame beans or fill up on something like Louie’s Crab Salad that features lump crab meat on a bed of fresh romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, and asparagus. Feel like cooking instead of dining out after a workout? Stop by the bistro’s market and pick up some fresh seafood or lean cuts of meat to add to your favorite healthy recipe.

Best Neighborhood Outdoor/Athletic Store to Buy Your Gear in Gastonia/Belmont

Essic Sport Shop has outfitted athletes in the Gastonia area since 1947. They carry everything from cleats and the latest running shoes to sports equipment and trophies.

Locals can keep their biking gear in tip-top shape with South Main Cycles close by. The bike shop carries a variety of top-of-the-line mountain bikes and has expert mechanics who provide high-quality service and routine maintenance. As an added bonus, they can typically turn around most repairs in 48 hours. 

Now that you’ve seen our list of best ways to stay active and fit in Gastonia/Belmont we want to hear from you! Leave a comment and tell us your favorite ways to stay healthy in the area.

A special thank you to Dr. David Ciaccia and Dr. Patricia L. McHale for their time and help putting together this list of bests.

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