10 Best Hikes near Charlotte, NC for All Levels (+ Map!)

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I sometimes forget about how much nature surrounds Charlotte and how it is the perfect base for nature opportunities. These are the best hikes near Charlotte NC for all skill levels.

I grew up in an area of the United States (Richmond, VA) where mountains were not my backyard and I always envied those that were located right next to the water or mountains.

Hiking trails near Charlotte North Carolina
Hiking trails near Charlotte North Carolina

Charlotte was always a place I loved visiting because it was so green and had so many natural opportunities a short stone’s throw away from the city.

This guide contains some amazing trails near Charlotte for any skill level. While you can venture out a bit further for more challenging hikes, we wanted to keep this family-friendly and for those looking for a bit of activity on a weekend but nothing too strenuous.

Please let us know your favorite hikes near Charlotte in the comments! Thanks!

Hikes in Charlotte NC – The List

If you look further down, you will see the difficulty level of each of these hikes. But, here is a quick list of the hikes covered on this list. All are of easy and moderate difficulty levels.

  • Mallard Creek Greenway
  • Evergreen Nature Preserve Loop
  • Little Sugarcreek Greenway
  • Four Mile Creek Greenway
  • Clarks Creek Greenway
  • Lake Loop
  • Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop
  • US National Whitewater Center Loop
  • Roller Coaster to Main Loop to Big Lake Loop
  • Kingfisher Trail

Hiking near Charlotte Trails Map

To add this map to your Google Maps account, click the ‘Star’ icon next to the map name. You can then view it on your cell phone or computer by heading to your Google Maps account, click the menu and add it to ‘Your Places’.

Easy Hikes in Charlotte (& Nearby)

Mallard Creek Greenway

Distance: 9.2 miles
Type of Trail: Out & back
Location: Charlotte, NC

One of the best day hikes near Charlotte is Mallard Creek Greenway, a 9.2-mile, heavily trafficked trail located near Charlotte. One of the main features on the trail is a river and you will find many things to do to entertain all levels of hikers from mountain biking to bird watching and more!

This out and back trail has an elevation gain of 167ft and dogs are permitted on the trail as long as they are on a leash. The trail has a mix of asphalt and gravel and can be a bit rougher when there are heavy rains, so wear proper shoes!

You can take this trail all the way to Clarks Creek Greenway.

Clarks Creek Greenway

Distance: 5.4 miles
Type of Trail: Out & back
Location: Charlotte, NC

If you’re looking for something a bit shorter yet still within Charlotte, the Clarks Creek Greenway is a fantastic recommendation! This 5.4-mile out and back trail has a river and offers a lot of nature opportunities for everyone!

It is a great place for birdwatching, running, experiencing the North Carolina spring wildflowers, and more!

Dogs are permitted but must be kept on leash. The trail is paved and fine for strollers. There are also 4 handicapped-accessible parking spots at Mallard Creek Elementary.

The trail can be covered in mud during the rain or snow season so be prepared! If you head toward the creek, you will have a chance to see salamanders and crawfish. The trail is mostly shaded and the elevation is very minimal. There are benches along the Charlotte trail.

Little Sugar Creek Greenway

Distance: 5.1 miles
Type of Trail: Out & back
Location: Huntington Farms Park

A wonderful day hike near Charlotte is the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Huntington Farms Park. The 5.1-mile trail is lightly trafficked and a perfect escape from the city’s noise and people.

Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Little Sugar Creek Greenway

It is an out and back trail that has several opportunities for activities – such as birdwatching, running, mountain biking, and road biking. Dogs are permitted if on a leash.

This fantastic trail is paved the entire way and you can pick it up near South Park Mall in South Charlotte. You will also find a dirt mountain biking trail close to it that will guide you through the forest.

There are handicapped-accessible parking spaces at a parking lot located off of Tyvola Road. There are some very minimal inclines throughout the trail so assistance may be required.

Evergreen Nature Preserve Loop

Distance: 1.8 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Location: Evergreen Nature Preserve

This beautiful 1.8-mile loop trail is lightly trafficked and is located at the Evergreen Nature Preserve near Charlotte.

It features spectacular wildflowers and is beloved by many for being a great place for all skill levels who want to enjoy walking, running, birdwatching, and more. Dogs are permitted on the trail.

The Evergreen Nature Preserve Loop is partially paved and the loop consists of many other smaller trails like the Norland Loop trail, Evergreen Trail, Tulip Tree Trail, Potters Road Trail, and the Clear Creek Trail. It can be muddy and bugs can be present – so please prepare beforehand! The trail is used all year round.

Lake Loop

Distance: 2.8 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Location: US National Whitewater Center

Located at the US National Whitewater Center near Charlotte, the Lake Loop trail is a fantastic day hike option.

US National Whitewater Center
US National Whitewater Center

Only 2.8 miles in length, the loop offers a chance for hikers to witness wildlife along the way. It is also a great place for mountain biking, bird watching, and more! There are beautiful views along the way and it is one of the best easy hikes near Charlotte NC!

Please note that parking is about $6. The trail is an easy level, but it may not be ideal for families as there are bikers using it and speeding past at rapid rates.

Four Mile Creek Greenway

Distance: 3.8 miles
Type of Trail: Out and back
Location: Charlotte

This moderately trafficked trail near Charlotte is a perfect option for those that want to escape the city for a wilderness retreat.

It is only 3.8 miles and is an out and back trail that is good for all skill levels. Dogs are permitted if they are on a leash.

Winter hiking in Charlotte NC
Winter hiking in Charlotte NC

There is a slight elevation gain of 72 feet but it is easy and manageable. It is paved the entire way or there are wooden boardwalks. Beware – the boardwalks can be slippery and can be muddy!

If you’re on the Four Mile Creek Greenway trail later in the day, the swap gnats can be ruthless, so be prepared!

Moderate Hikes near Charlotte

Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop

Distance: 4.3 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Location: Charlotte

A moderate, top-rated trail located near Charlotte is the Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop. It is a 4.3-mile, heavily-trafficked loop that has a lake and many activities for hikers. Dogs are permitted if kept on leash.

The trail can be a bit overgrown and the bridge can be out, but other parts of it are partially paved. It is great for walking, fishing, and running.

The main challenge of the trail is the overgrown roots trees, but it is fairly easy. Do note that mountain bikes are not permitted when the trails are wet.

US National Whitewater Center Loop

Distance: 8.7 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Location: US National Whitewater Center

Another trail located at the US National Whitewater Center is the 8.7-mile heavily trafficked loop aptly called the US National Whitewater Center Loop trail.

This trail has a lake and is ideal for runners, hikers, mountain bikers, and those just looking to escape into nature for a bit.

Hiking at US National Whitewater Center
Hiking at US National Whitewater Center

It is best used from March until October and dogs are permitted on the trail if they are on a leash.

This loop trail combines a few other trails – the North Main Loop, Lake Loop, Carpet Loop, and South Main Loop. There is a $6 fee at the gate.

Roller Coaster to Main Loop to Big Lake Loop

Distance: 8.8 miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Location: Sherman Branch Mountain Biking Park

On the Sherman Branch Mountain Biking Park, you will find this 8.8-mile loop trail. It is one of the best hikes near Charlotte for moderate-level hikers and features a lake.

The Roller Coaster to Main Loop to Big Lake Loop permits dogs as long as they are on a leash. There is an elevation gain of 528 feet and it is fantastic for XC bikes – so if you’re hiking, beware of bikers coming in behind you at full speed! The trail is mostly shaded.

Kingfisher Trail

Distance: 1.3 miles
Type of Trail: Out and back
Location: McDowell Nature Preserve

The Kingfisher Trail is one of the best out and back trails near Charlotte NC for all levels of hikers, even though the trail is classified as ‘moderate’ difficulty.

At only 1.3 miles long, the trail is situated in McDowell Nature Preserve and dogs are permitted as long as they are on a leash. The hike can be done year-round.

Spiders on the Kingfisher Trail
Spiders on the Kingfisher Trail

This trail is fairly easy but does not qualify as wheelchair and stroller friendly even if certain parts of the trail will be suitable.

One of the best things about this hike near Charlotte is that the McDowell Nature Preserve is home to so many animals! It contains over 119 species of birds, 21 mammal species, 21 reptiles, and 14 different types of amphibians.

There are even some highly unusual species living there, so be sure to bring a camera or your binoculars and enjoy the hike for its wildlife opportunities too!

What to Pack

Naturally, dress for the season!  Summers in North Carolina are humid and hot, but if you’re in the forest or in higher elevation, it will most definitely be more comfortable than in the city.

Here are some recommendations of what you should bring on a Charlotte hike:

Reusable Water Jug:  I recommend always having a reusable water jug with you at all times.  NC’s weather is unforgiving and you can dehydrate quickly!  There are almost always freshwater sources available in and around the area but do bring some with you just in case!  I travel the world with my Klean Kanteen water jug and I think it is the perfect one to get the job done when hiking! You can see the one I use here.

Keen Targhee Hiking Boots:  During North Carolina’s warmer months, evening storms and rain is more common than not and you’ll likely experience mud somewhere on your hike.  I have had my Keen Targhee hiking boots for many years and they have helped me trek across some wild environments, so I definitely recommend investing in a pair if you’re an avid hiker.  You can see my Keen Targhee hikers here.

Best hikes near Charlotte NC
Best hikes near Charlotte NC

Mosquito Repellent:  One thing I don’t miss when I leave NC’s borders is the mosquitoes.  But, they are unavoidable and a complete nuisance when trying to enjoy the outdoors.  I recommend a heavy-duty repellent to put your mind at peace before taking to the North Carolina wilderness.  Here is the mosquito repellent I use to deter them!

Lightweight Daypack:  If there is one thing I have too many of, it is daypacks.  While I love my Sandqvist and Ucon Acrobatics Bags, I opt for something a bit more lightweight when hiking.  My top recommendation is the Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack.  It is durable and well-made and will be an effortless accompaniment for your day hike.  Click here to check out color options and purchase.

Larabars:  When I travel, I always keep some type of ‘bars’ on me and my favorite are Larabars.  I have been eating these for well over a decade and they are perfect for exciting day hikes as they are richer and more filling than their size indicates!  You can buy a variety box or just purchase your favorite.  Click here to purchase a box of Larabars for your hike.

Before heading out, give the weather a check to see if rain (or snow) is on the horizon and adapt what you bring accordingly.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to the best hikes near Charlotte NC! These Charlotte day hikes are some of the top-rated but I am sure there are some other winners!

Please let us know in the comments! Thanks!

Additional Charlotte & NC Travel Resources

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Are you looking for an escape from the city and want to know the best hikes near Charlotte NC (for all levels)? This guide has you covered - including a map! | Charlotte hiking | Charlotte trails | Charlotte hiking trails | Charlotte day hikes | Charlotte easy hikes | Charlotte hikes | Best hikes near Charlotte North Carolina | Hiking in Charlotte | Hikes in Charlotte | Trails in Charlotte | Trails near Charlotte | Things to do in Charlotte | North Carolina hiking

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