5 Charlotte Area Hikes and Bike Trails for Families

By Sponsored by Atrium Health Levine Children's March 23, 2022

Looking to start hiking or biking with your kids in Charlotte? Here are 5 great trails for beginners and families. These trails are all within 30 minutes of metro Charlotte also! Spending time outside has many health benefits for kids and adults alike,

Dr. Chpryelle Carr, a pediatrician at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Rea Village Pediatrics shared some of the benefits with us.
"There are a lot of benefits of getting outside. Research shows children play harder when they are outside versus being inside. Playing outside also allows children to expand their activity options. They can play sports, go on nature walks, do nature scavenger hunts, or ride their bikes for example. Changing of scenery from inside to outside play can also have a positive impact on their mental health. Ideally, children should have increased activity or playtime at least one hour a day. This does not have to be at one time and can be broken up into segments throughout the day. As long as the weather permits, being outside or “exercising” should be encouraged. Younger children need to focus on activities that can increase their heart rate and not necessarily “exercise” per se. This can look like playing soccer with your family, riding bikes, playing hide and seek with family, etc."


Anne Springs Greenway: 

Anne Springs Greenway offers over 40 miles of hikes to choose from. There is a $5 daily usage fee and you can also purchase a yearly pass for $99 a family. Anne Springs Greenway hikes are clearly marked and color-coded so that hikers are able to easily choose and follow while out on the paths. In addition to hikes, you can boat, camp, fish, ride horses, and more. Anne Springs Greenway also has one of the best and easiest to use websites! You can find hikes, trail maps, information on guided hikes, and more.

Lake Norman State Park:

With 4 different trails to choose from, Lake Norman State Park trails range in distance from .50 miles to 6 miles making it a great choice for families with kids of all ages. Two of the paths are fully paved for strollers and wheelchairs and all of the trails offer views of the lake. In addition to the trails, the park has camping, boating, fishing, biking, swimming, and a nature center. 

McDowell Nature Preserve: 

 This is a local favorite, the hikes at McDowell Nature Preserve are easy and the terrain is varied. If you stop by the nature center before you head out, you can check out a backpack that has a map as well as activities to complete along the way. There are over 7 miles of trails and dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash. McDowell also offers fishing and areas for picnics and paddling tours of Lake Wylie. You can download a map before you head out as well.

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve:

In addition to an active nature center, Reedy Creek has 10 miles of trails for hiking and biking. The hikes take you past streams, lakes, fields, and even the ruins of a house built in 1790. Reedy Creek also has areas for fishing as well as picnics. The hikes at Reedy Creek vary in difficulty so it is a good option for beginners as well as families looking for longer hikes. You can download a map of hikes before you go.

Rural Hill: 

In addition to year-round events, Rural Hill offers over 15 hikes ranging in distances from .5 miles to 6 miles. The hikes are at a low elevation making them great for families. While hiking at Rural Hill families will have the opportunity to see some rare birds in our area. Make sure you check out this list of birds in the area and take some binoculars to catch a glimpse of these feathered friends.

Bike Trails

Anne Springs Greenway: 

These trails are for older kids and adventurous bikers. There are over 40 miles of mountain biking trails in addition to easier paths for families with younger children. 

Charlotte Rail Trail: 

Easy two-mile ride that follows the trolley. This bike route runs from E.9th Street in Uptown to Clanton Road in South End.

Freedom Park: 

An easy loop for younger riders. It's nice and flat with plenty of space to stop as needed and wide enough that kids of all abilities can move at their own speed. If you're looking for a longer ride you can catch Little Sugar Creek Greenway right at Freedom Park.

McAlpine Creek, McMullen Creek, and Four Mile Creek: 

This greenway loops and connects all these differed entrances to the 5.8-mile route. The path is a smooth boardwalk, gravel, and asphalt making it one of the easiest rides for families in the area. The Greenway can get very busy on the weekends so make sure your kids understand the rules of the path directions and stay right or left depending on what direction you're traveling.

U.S. National Whitewater Center: 

Trails are marked for ability levels and the center offers 20 miles of bike trails. In addition to the trails, there are tons of hiking trails and family-friendly activities.

 For more information on how to keep your kids healthy and active, always contact your pediatrician with questions. Looking for a pediatrician? Find one here.

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