Charlotte, NC: Reedy Creek Preserve Loop

Wander through a secluded forest on this east loop in the Reedy Creek Preserve outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
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Wander through a secluded forest on this east loop in the Reedy Creek Preserve outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sometimes we wake up to a day where we're not out to conquer the world. We just want to let the experience take us in, as we wander quietly and humbly in a secluded forest. In this moment, it's time to check out the Preserve Loop at Reedy Creek. BY MATT CLAPP

Trip Stats
Distance: 3.3 miles
Time: 1.5 hrs
Distance from Uptown: 25 minutes
More Info: Best Hikes Near Charlotte by Jennifer Pharr Davis; www.parkandrec.com/Reedy

Prep
1. If you enjoy fishing (and have a license), bring your pole and some lures for the largemouth bass in Dragonfly Pond.
2. Type "Reedy Creek Nature Center" into Google Maps to get directions to the trailhead.
3. When you get to the park, slow down to 15 mph. But not just because it's the speed limit. It's time to relax. Smile at the surprisingly detailed turtle crossing sign (it has toenails!) (the turtle, not the sign).
4. Pick up a free map at the Nature Center.

Explore
Mile 0.0:
Find the Dragonfly Pond Trail sign, just left of a gated gravel road, and follow the green blazes.
0.3: Reach a T junction for Kingfisher Pond. Continue straight to stay on the Dragonfly Pond Trail.
0.5: Pass several benches that are perfect for enjoying the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling.
0.8: At the east end of Dragonfly Pond turn right and continue following the green blazes.
1.0: EASY TO MISS: Turn left onto an unmarked trail to join the Umbrella Trail.
1.05: Exit forest onto a fork just past a sign indicating the Umbrella Trail. Stay left. 100' later stay left at "Before the Settlers" educational sign. There is a small post painted red with the number 2, the first of many numbered posts. While hiking this section of the trail, stop and see if you can hear the woodpeckers hard at work.
1.4: Come to a junction with a sign for South Fork Trail on left. Continue straight over the bridge and up the wooden stairs.
1.7: Turn left onto Big Oak Trail.
2.7: At the fork continue left onto the wider unmarked trail directly in front of you.
2.8: At the end of the wider trail, turn left onto the smaller trail it ends at.3.0 Arrive back at the Nature Center. High five the big blue bird sign on your way back into the parking lot.

Reward
1. In the Nature Center, check out the turtles and then relax in the rocking chairs made out of tree branches while watching birds at the bird feeder outside the glass doors.
2. Go into a bathroom stall and read the "Reedy Creek Toilet Paper" - the name of monthly newsletter and event calendar taped to the side of the stall!
3. On your way home, swing by the McMillan Greenhouse at the UNCC Botanical Garden (free parking on weekends) and check out their small but extremely well curated collection of plants featured in Bizarre Botanicals. Then wander through the beautiful outdoor gardens across the street.

My Day
Temp:
35, sunny
Water: 10 oz. (tea, plus a little water)
Song:It's a Great Day to Be Alive by Travis Tritt—"It's a goofy thing but I just gotta say, hey, I'm doin' all right."
Drink: Licorice Mint tea by Yogi

Trail Facts

  • State: NC
  • City: Charlotte
  • Distance: 0.0