Spring is in full swing now and despite or maybe because of the quarantine, you will want to add these parks and trails to your warm weather, get-outside bucket list. Despite Charlotte’s big-city vibes, a short jaunt to one of the numerous area parks offers locals the opportunity to be one with nature – something that has become even more precious in times of stay at home orders.
Please note: It is pretty hard to socially distance by 6 feet when walking with a friend. These walks are recommended for single-use during the Stay Safe, Stay at Home time. And of course, please always check before you head out to make sure your destination is open and accessible.
Running / Walking
Little Sugar Creek Greenway (Morehead St to Brandywine Road) – 3 miles – This urban trail will eventually feature 19 consecutive miles linking North Tryon Street all the way to our neighbors over the border in SC. This particular section of the greenway brings you through Myers Park and Dilworth to just behind Park Road Shopping Center.
Col Francis Beatty Park – 7 miles – Although it is known more as mountain biking destination, the trails at Col Francis Beatty Park in South Charlotte are multi-use. Find sweet relief under shady trees on the area’s trails and keep cool during your runs.
Mallard Creek Greenway – 7.4 miles- Mallard Creek Greenway is part of the Cross-Charlotte Trail, a partnership between Mecklenburg County and the City of Charlotte that strives to develop a 26 mile contiguous trail to connect the SC/NC State line to Cabarrus County. The western end of these greenways is a paved trail through University City neighborhoods. In the middle is a gravel trail through University Research Park. The eastern end is a paved trail passing through mature floodplain forest, under I-85 and Highway 29, and on to the Kirk Farm soccer fields near UNC-Charlotte. Near Kirk Farm Fields, it connects to Toby Creek Greenway, where the system extends for an additional 2.64 miles to W. Rocky River Rd.
Anne Springs Close Greenway – You certainly don’t have to cover all 40 miles, but each and every inch of the trails at ASCGW is open to runners and walkers. You’ll find everything you could possibly wish for from sand to gravel and hills to flat. The variation of these trails cannot be matched as you build your customized workout and vary your distance using the many loops.
Plaza Midwood – Make up your own route here and rest assured that historical neighborhoods value their historic trees and historic things are old and old trees are big, therefore we have lots of shade as temps climb here- feel me? An excellent rule of thumb for our other treasured historic areas too.
Elizabeth – I miss my old ‘hood and routes dearly. Although there is a stretch on Caswell that is not heavily shaded, your tour through Chantilly and Myers Park more than make up for it. Looping through neighborhoods and down tree-lined roads is a great way to stay cool and also explore parts of town you might not otherwise have found.
Dilworth – 3-5 miles – This route is really fun to play with and improvise. Take a turn down a road that looks interesting and rest assured that you’ll be covered by the leafy Dilworth canopy along the way.
Booty Loop – 3 miles – Real estate day dreaming pairs wonderfully with a trip around the Booty Loop. Regardless of the school of thought to which you subscribe about the origins of this route’s name, its large oaks give you plenty of shade to tone your backside. Some people think it’s called the Booty Loop because of the… ahem… eye candy that frequents this area, others (myself included) prefer the idea that it’s because it whips your butt into shape with a few challenging hills and rewarding valleys. Explore Myers Park off the loop for more shade from the pride of The Queen City – our expansive canopy thanks to our beautiful established trees.
Whitewater Center – The USNWC’s system of trails will keep you cool and covered, even when temps soar. While no services or programming is available, the trail network remains open, 365 days a year.
Irwin Creek Greenway – located in 3rd/4th Ward, this greenway has plenty of mature trees. I love riding my bike here because there are parts that feel like you’re in the mountains thanks to a few gently rolling hills. Use caution when running alone, ladies. This area doesn’t have heavy traffic/crowds!
4 Mile Creek – 4 miles… duh – a true gem in Matthews. Parking is available at Squirrel Lake Park located at: 1631 Pleasant Plains Road Matthews, NC 28105.
Address: 1200 W. Tyvola Rd, Charlotte, NC
Trails: 2 3-mile loops. A great place for beginner mountain bikers with some hills and minor technical stretches.
Landsford Canal State Park
Address: 2051 Park Dr, Catawba, SC
Trails: The Canal Trail is a 1.5 mile one-way route where bikers can take in the outdoors as well as a bit of history as they cruise along the park’s historic tow path including an early-1800’s mill site.
Colonel Francis Beatty Park
Address: 4330 Weddington Rd., Weddington, NC
Trails: Perhaps a little more technical than a family Sunday cruise might allow, this park has one fast-riding, 7-mile trail. Although mostly flat, there are also some variations in the trail (like jumps and bridges), that make it a bit more challenging than our greenway suggestions.
McAlpine Creek Greenway/Park
Address: 8711 Monroe Road, Charlotte, NC
Trails: An easy but fun 2-mile trail within the park connects to the McAlpine Greenway and 4-Mile Creek/McMullen Creek Greenways.
Address: 1900 East Blvd, Charlotte, NC
Trails: The Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of trails that touches 15 counties, 2 states, and 2.3 million people with over 250 miles of trails, passes through our own “CLT Central Park.” Take a leisurely spin around the lake, or jump on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway for a longer ride.
Anne Springs Close Greenway
Address: 104 Adventure Rd, Fort Mill, SC
Trails: Although these trails are not recommended for beginners, once you get the hang of mountain biking, take part in the park’s weekly bike meetup.
US National Whitewater Center Trails
Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC
Trails: Clocking in at over 20 miles, the trail system at the USNWC has well-marked beginner, intermediate, and advanced options for your day in the saddle.
Riverwalk: Piedmont Medical Center Trail
Address: Terrace Park, Rock Hill, SC
Features: Fun fact, there are not only amateur biking trails at Riverwalk, but also hardcore, professional-level cycling facilities, which are currently closed as part of the quarantine protection efforts. Add it to your post-shelter list though, it’s great for participants and spectators alike.
Trails: The Piedmont Medical Center Trail offers a taste of nature with the comfort of a gently rolling and winding paved trail along the banks of the Catawba River. For the more adventurous, there are mountain biking trails for beginners through advanced riders.
Baxter Village Trail
Address: 1712 1st Baxter Crossing, Fort Mill, SC
Trails: At 3.3 miles one-way, this trail is the perfect length whatever your biking goal for the day might be. Cutting through woods and residential areas, the Baxter Village trail is complete with an observation deck overlooking the Catawba River.