10 AMAZING HIKES NEAR LAKE NORMAN
It's officially my favorite time of the year, FALL! This is the time of the year when I throw the top back on my jeep ready to wander and wind my way around North Carolina's country roads in search of a great hike. It's really times like this when I truly am grateful to live in such an amazing place. While the lake is still readily available to enjoy throughout fall, the changing colors and cooler temperatures make this the perfect time of year to enjoy a fall hike. I've pulled together some great hikes that you can enjoy just a short drive away. If you would like some other ideas for enjoying fall in North Carolina, make sure to subscribe, and certainly let me know about some of your amazing fall spots to hike.
1. Lake Norman State Park, Lake Shore Trail
This five mile hike follows the shoreline of Lake Norman with gentle slopes and gorgeous sights. It's fairly popular and marked well. At five miles, it's a great beginner trail, but you can easily turn around at any part to shorten the distance. There are several spots along the way that make an excellent place to sit and read a book or have a snack and you can often find the best spots taken up by a hanging eno! The Lake Shore Loop passes the public swimming area, which may still be warm enough to enjoy.
2. Bakers Mountain Park
Located at the highest elevation in Catawba County, Bakers Mountain Park isn’t big, but has great views. The park is spread over 200 acres and has about 6 miles of trails. The 1,780-foot summit offers strikingly good vistas. Its foothills are home to a chestnut oak forest, plus a variety of other wildlife and native plants.
3. Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area
This is a favorite hiking spot of mine, but also if you are a outdoor rock climber, this will become a favorite location for you as well. Thanks to the The Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC), CCC representative and Rock Dimensions owner, Ryan Beasley; along with locals Johnny O’Connell and Travis Mabe have been important partners in helping to establish rock climbing as a major activity of the park. Rocky Face Mountain is located in the northern part of Alexander County and is considered to be the southern edge of the Brushy Mountains. There are about 6 miles of hiking trails that lead to the summit. The very best part of a day trip to Rocky Face Mountain is a visit to The Yellow Deli for lunch! This will make the miles of hiking well worth it.
4. Crowder’s Mountain State Park
Here you can find challenging hikes, towering cliffs and 25-mile views of the surrounding piedmont. Just a short 30 minute drive from Charlotte, King’s Pinnacle is perhaps the best-known feature of this park, standing at 1,705 feet. The hike is not overly steep, but there are more rugged trails available throughout the park, as well as chances for rock climbing and bouldering throughout. If a mountain hike isn't for you, a simple and easy trail is available along the 9-acre lake in the state park.
5. Buffalo Creek Preserve
The Buffalo Creek Preserve Trail is a natural surface trail that takes visitors through restored oak-savanna, farmland and along Adams Creek. Located in Mount Pleasant, NC in rural Cabarrus County. The trail features a natural surface trail and gravel road overland connector used for walking, hiking, running, and mountain biking. The Buffalo Creek Trail is part of "The Butterfly Highway is a statewide conservation restoration initiative that aims to restore native pollinator habitats to areas impacted by urbanization, land use change and agriculture across North Carolina. From backyard Pollinator Pitstops to large-scale roadside habitat restoration, the project is creating a network of native flowering plants to support butterflies, bees, birds and other pollen and nectar dependent wildlife."
6. US National Whitewater Center
Looking for a unique way to add some activities to your fall calendar? The Whitewater Center has a bit of everything from mountain bike trails, hiking trails, zip lining and whitewater rafting! There are over 50 miles of trails for mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. Use of the trail system does not require an activity pass but you should check the current trail status (at the top of the website) prior to accessing the trail system. Trails are marked for novice, intermediate, and expert hikers, so you can take a pick that suits your experience level.
7. Chimney Rock Park
Want to combine some adventurous hiking with postcard worthy views? This strapping 500 million-year old rock rises above its surroundings for magnificent views. Equally magnificent and exciting is the path to this rock. The staircase is an adventure on it's own, but the views are certainly worth it. While it may seem daunting, we did this hike several times with our kids when they were under the age of 10. There are several trail levels to choose from and I quite honestly don't think there is any possible better location to see the fall colors!
8. Boone’s Cave Park
There are over 100 acre's of hiking trails that include a secluded rolling forest of mixed hardwoods, and a host to a number of wildflowers normally only found in the Appalachian Mountains. Forty-six acres of the park are designated as a Natural Heritage Site. For an added bonus, don't miss the cottonwood tree, which is the third largest on record in the state; it is 169 feet tall, more than 16 feet around the trunk and the canopy is 109 feet wide.
9. Ridgeline Trail
The Ridgeline Trail is a 9-mile route connecting Crowders Mountain State Park, Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park. The three parks jointly manage the trail. The bonus here is that you get to hike to another State! Crowders Mountain Ridgeline Trail is a 15.8 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Kings Mountain, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. There are some good picnic options stream side near the end.
10. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
Latta Nature Preserve has 16 miles of trails offering hikers, nature enthusiasts, and horseback riders the opportunity to explore a variety of terrain while enjoying scenic views of the lake, forests, and streams. It is the only Mecklenburg County property open to horseback riding. There are 3 miles dedicated to hiking only with the remaining 13 shared between horseback riders and hikers. Latta Nature Preserve is the County's largest nature preserve and protects over 1,460 acres of natural communities and is a habitat for 97 species of birds, 17 species of mammals, 14 species of reptiles, and 9 species of amphibians.
No matter what time of year, or where your interest lie, we're here to help—whether it's to find a new place to call home, new activities to help it feel like home or help you sell your home.
If your fall plans include selling your home, we'd love to chat!