Five-Star Trails Charlotte  by Joshua Kinser

Five-Star Trails: Charlotte Guide Book

by Joshua Kinser (Menasha Ridge Press)
Five-Star Trails Charlotte  by Joshua Kinser
Five-Star Trails: Charlotte is a handy guide for area residents, vacationers seeking outdoor fun, and for business travelers with a free afternoon. With a diverse collection of hiking routes, the book offers choices for everyone from solo trekkers to companions to families with either youngsters or oldsters to consider. Researched, experienced, and written by a local author, the guide provides in-depth trail descriptions, directions, and commentary on what to expect along the way. Each hike features an individual trail map, elevation profile, and at-a-glance key info, helping readers quickly determine the perfect trip for them when they are ready to head out the door.

© 2012 Joshua Kinser /Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Five-Star Trails: Charlotte" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 32.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 32.

The Red Loop hike starts in the northern portion of Cane Creek Park and is more than 3 miles long but has little elevation. It’s an easy hike through mostly forested terrain. A good hike for older kids who can handle the 3-mile trek, the trail passes a climbing wall station, soccer field, and Cane Creek Lake. Several spur trails lead to nice picnic pavilions, and with all of the recreation opportunities along the route, it’s easy enough to make a whole day of the hike.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3.4
Starting from the southern section of Cane Creek Park, this trail departs from the primitive-camping parking lot on the shore of Cane Creek Lake. The route combines two popular trails in the park to create a simple balloon hike. Hike along the shore of Cane Creek Lake before exploring the surrounding forest. An extensive picnic-pavilion development about halfway through the hike makes for a well- positioned resting point.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 3.6
This hike combines the Pinnacle, Turnback, Fern, and Lake trails to create a loop that traverses a wide variety of landscapes. The highlight is at the end of the trail, when the Fern and Lake trails loop around a picturesque lake and cross several creeks. At the beginning of the route, the trail ascends more than 200 feet in the first mile, climbs to a ridge, and then steeply descends to the lake. The route is not nearly as challenging as the hike up to the summit of Crowders Mountain. If you want to turn your quick and pleasant day hike into an overnight camping trip under the stars, the Pinnacle Trail leads to a spur trail that heads to the walk-in camping sites.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.3
This hike combines three trails in Crowders Mountain State Park— the Crowders Trail, Rocktop Trail, and Backside Trail—to create a loop that climbs challenging hills up to the summit of Crowders Mountain. Although the summit isn’t all that impressive because it’s covered with communication towers, the surrounding rock formations, outcrops, and views of the surrounding mountains are worth the hike. It’s defi nitely not easy or short at more than 4 miles, so consider your fi tness level and allow plenty of time to hike the trail based on how fi t you are. The best views on the hike are when the forest opens up or a rock formation juts out to the east and gives you a view of the Charlotte skyline rising out of the forest in the distance.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 5
If you love gardens, plan on spending the whole day for this walk. The route explores the best features of the gardens, including the Formal Display Gardens and the four Perennial Gardens. Daniel Stowe, a textile CEO, set aside 400 acres of his estate and funded Charlotte’s best botanical gardens, which fully opened to the public on October 9, 1999. This route stops in at the highlight of the garden: the Orchid Conservatory, the only glass-house conservatory in the Carolinas open to the public, which debuted on January 19, 2008. The garden is filled with traditional and modern architecture and sculpture, as well as a collection of beautifully constructed fountains that are certain to capture the imagination; walk under the arching fountain at the risk of getting very wet. The garden is well suited for both kids and adults, and the trails and grounds are immaculately maintained by what are considered to be among the finest gardeners in the region.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.6
This route explores the heart of Downtown and Uptown Charlotte, taking you past some of the most visited attractions that really capture the spirit and character of the city. Nestled among impressive examples of urban development and towering buildings are historic sites, art displays, and entertainment venues. The loop route begins at the Visitor Info Center, Center City location (other branches are at the airport and at the Levine Museum of the New South, not near this route), where you can pick up a free illustrated city map. From there you’ll meander some dozen blocks and cross through a wonderful park as you loop back to the Visitor Info Center. This trail is a treat for children old enough to walk 3 miles, as there are lots of interesting sites and adventures for them along this route. In fact, you should spend a few minutes at the Visitor Info Center to decide on any attractions that may captur
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3
This walk explores the historic heart of Charlotte’s Uptown city center. In the 1800s, four political divisions made up the city’s geographic footprint, and the prosperous neighborhood in the northwest section of the city became the Fourth Ward. Over time, the neighborhood fell into disrepair and remained that way until a newly minted 1970s neighborhood association sought to restore the area’s homes and business properties. Today, this district embraces some of the city’s finest examples of residential architecture by any standards, and on this route you will travel among the Fourth Ward’s best blocks of homes, parks, and attractions. Consider making this walk during the holiday season, when many of the historic homes are open to the public for touring, or in the spring and fall when the weather is most pleasant.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
This trail is part of Charlotte’s impressive greenway system. To date, the Charlotte area has 14 greenways containing more than 30 miles of trails, making it one of the best greenway systems in the country. This route begins at Frazier Park in Charlotte’s Uptown city-center area. At Frazier Park, the trail passes basketball courts, a dog park, soccer field, tennis courts, and a playground before traveling through the historic Wesley Heights neighborhood and reaching Seversville Park for the turnaround point. Make sure to bring a basketball, soccer ball, or tennis balls and racquets if you’re interested in mixing these activities into your walk. One portion of the trail follows an old railroad bed and through a forested area of Uptown Charlotte. The proximity of the trail to Johnson & Wales University (renowned for its culinary programs) and the nearby restaurant and business plaza make the trail a popular excursion while visiting Charlotte’s city center.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.5
Located about 25 minutes north of Charlotte’s city center, the 105- acre Jetton Park has more than 4 miles of trails to explore. This hike starts at the park’s visitor center, on the shore of Lake Norman, and follows a section of the larger 1.5-mile loop trail onto smaller trails that lead into the center of the park, where formal gardens and a gazebo nestle in a mature pine-and-hardwood forest. The trail meanders through the gardens before rejoining the main trail on the lakeshore, then leads to a spacious sunning beach and picnic area before returning to the visitor center and the trailhead.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 0.9
This route follows a biking and running path that runs along the outer edge of 105-acre Jetton Park, about 25 minutes north of Charlotte’s city center. The trail begins at a playground near the entrance of the park and follows the path through a mature pine and hardwood forest before reaching the shore of Lake Norman. Along the lakeshore, many picnic pavilions equipped with barbecue grills off er wonderful views of the lake. The path also leads to a sunning beach before it returns to the playground and the trailhead.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 1.4
Explore the site of what is considered one of the most important confl icts of the Revolutionary War. This paved, wheelchair-accessible trail explores the 1780 Battle of Kings Mountain through a very welldone collection of interpretive plaques and monuments. The beautiful hardwood-forest setting and occasional distant views along the trail, which circles the top of Kings Mountain, are worth the trip even if you’re not interested in the history. One of the highlights is an obelisk, reminiscent of the Washington Monument, that marks the location in which the Battle of Kings Mountain began to turn in favor of the revolutionary patriots.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.5
Walk along the shore of Lake Crawford and through a hardwood forest to a very interesting Living History Farm. The Living History Farm re-creates of what life was like in the 1800s, around the time that the battle on Kings Mountain was fought. There are gardens, chicken coops, blacksmith stations, and cabins to explore. It’s a selfguided tour most of the year. If your imagination is easily captured and you have even an inkling of an interest in history, be prepared to spend more time than you would expect wandering around this excellent farm museum. A large conference center, artfully constructed of stone and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, also sits along the shore of Lake Crawford.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.6
Exploring more than 5 miles of the backcountry of Kings Mountain State Park, this trail also ventures into nearby Kings Mountain National Military Park for a short distance. The trail is mostly a challenge in distance. It traverses a few demanding hills, but most of the path has hardly noticeable elevation. The trail off ers a long and pleasant hike through a quiet and mature forest while crossing over several gentle streams and through two primitive group camps. Note: Stop at the visitor center to buy a decent trail map for $1. (The park off ers free maps online and at the kiosks, but they’re almost completely useless for hiking.)
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
The 1,345-acre Latta Plantation Nature Preserve offers an abundance of outdoor activities that include paddling, horseback riding, fishing, birding, and hiking. Along the trails, you will encounter several picnic shelters and fishing piers, so feel free to pack a lunch or bring your pole along for the hike. During the summer, you’d do well to bring along some bug spray. This hike combines several existing trails within the preserve, creating a route that includes most of the highlights of this popular destination. The trail starts in a shady and dense bottomland hardwood forest along the shore of Mountain Island Lake. It skirts past one of the region’s few remaining and restored Piedmont prairies (described later) and follows along the shore of Mountain Island Lake, where you will find several small beaches. This trail is best in the spring, before the heat hits Mecklenburg County, or in the fall, when the leaves in Piedmont country are turning color.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 5.1
This 2.2-mile section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway connects the Carolinas Medical Center with the recreation activities of Freedom Park and two other smaller parks to the south. This route is part of a larger linear-park greenway project throughout Charlotte that aims to reduce flooding, clean the waterways, and provide more green space and outdoor activities to residents. To date there are 14 greenways in the Charlotte area that contain more than 30 miles of trails, making it one of the best greenway systems in the country.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.4
This route begins at McAlpine Creek Park, Charlotte’s first official green space, about 11 miles southeast of Charlotte’s city center. Along this trail and in the vicinity you encounter tennis courts, horseshoe pits, picnic shelters, five expansive soccer fields, a pond stocked for fishing, and the city’s first leash-free dog park, Ray’s Fetching Meadows. Make sure to prepare if you wish to partake in any of these activities. The trail briefly follows an elevated boardwalk that connects to the McAlpine Creek Greenway and runs past a pleasant pond and several soccer fields. The trail becomes wide and gravel and utilizes a section of the 5k cross-country course before veering off into the shade and returning to the pond and trailhead via the nature trail.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running,Walking - Trail Length: 1.9
This shorter route through McAlpine Creek Park follows a section of the greenway and loops around a nice pond. The trail runs in very close proximity to Ray’s Fetching Meadows, a leash-free dog park, and is a great trail for kids. The elevation is almost nonexistent except for climbing a few stairs to get on and off the elevated boardwalk, and the distance is short enough to keep their attention and not wear out the youngest of children. The loop is very much out in the open, and the park is often moderately busy, providing an element of safety. The pond is open for fishing from the shore or the railed observation deck. An abundance of waterfowl wading and splashing in the pond provides an extra element of wonder for kids and adults alike.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking,Trail Running,Walking - Trail Length: 1.4
Take a walk through one of the most popular sections of McDowell Nature Preserve on a loop hike that connects three different trails in the park. The hike leads through a slightly hilly hardwood forest and follows along the shore of Lake Wylie before entering back into the forest and climbing over some moderate hills in the park. Along this trail you will also find several primitive campsites for visitors who prefer a secluded wilderness experience. The backpacking sites are available for reservation online or from the campground office.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.5
After checking out the preserve’s nature center, access this loop hike—a great trail for birding—that connects three popular trails. Preserve volunteers have established an abundance of bird boxes to help promote avian life in the surrounding forest. After exploring the hardwood forest around the nature center, the trail follows alongside a small creek with a rocky streambed, reminiscent of streams in the farther west Appalachian Mountains. The short pathis a nice warmup trail in the morning. It starts out with a gradual climb and then, after reaching the stream and following level ground, encounters several challenging hills that really get the blood pumping before you return to the nature center.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
The trail starts in the northeast section of the park, departing from the parking lot for the boat launch on the Yadkin River. This exceptionally beautiful and equally challenging hike is not to be missed. If you choose to do only a handful of trails in this book, I would highly recommend hiking this trail. After leaving the parking lot, the trail begins to ascend quickly and steeply. The trail climbs to the top of Fall Mountain, where, were it not for the very beautiful forest surrounding the trail, you would possibly be disappointed that the views were not better. You get to steal a few far-reaching views through the trees, and more in the wintertime, before the trail descends steeply back down to the wide Yadkin River. The trail follows along the river shore for more than 0.5 mile. This section is very beautiful and enjoyable, not to mention comfortably level. Even if you don’t want to climb Fall Mountain, do this trail in reverse and just hike the level portion along the river. You’ll be glad you did. The challenging hills and climb to Fall Mountain make this trail an exceptional choice for fitness training, preparing for longer backpacking trips, and trying out new hiking gear before you take it on long expeditions.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4