Charlotte, NC: Lake Shore Trail, Lake Norman

Stroll 4.8 miles along Lake Norman on the Lake Shore Trail about an hour from Charlotte.

With great lakeshore scenery and bird life, Lake Shore Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes near Charlotte. This quiet hike would be fantastic for taking a date or someone new to hiking. In the summer, consider bringing your swimsuit. BY MATT CLAPP

Trip Stats
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 2-2.5 hours
Distance from Uptown: 1 hour
More Info: Best Hikes Near Charlotte by Jennifer Pharr Davis

1. Enter "Shortleaf Dr." into Google Maps (the city listed is Statesville). Park at the intersection of Shortleaf and St. John's Rd. You will see the wooden trailhead sign here. If you need to use the bathroom before/after the hike, drive a short distance to the end of Shortleaf Dr.
2. If going in warm weather, bring a swimsuit and towel.

Mile 0.0: From wooden trailhead sign, head down the stairs and follow the trail sign. Note, if it has rained recently, it can be muddy. (Nonetheless, I did it carefully in trail running shoes.)
0.1: After crossing the footbridge, turn right to follow the white diamond blazes.
0.2: The path reaches the shoreline.
0.3: Turn right onto the footbridge
0.6: Arrive at intersection with Shirt Turn Trail. Go straight and begin following the red blazes. If you brought your swimsuit, consider swimming out to the island just offshore.
0.7: Turn right to resume following the white diamond blazes.
1.0: Arrive at a bench. Relax and enjoy the contrast of the blue green water with the orange red shoreline.
1.75: Cross a pair of wooden bridges.
2.5: Arrive at junction with Short Turn Trail. If you want to cut your hike short, turn left and follow red blazes. Otherwise continue straight and follow the white diamonds.
2.9: Cross the road and continue following the white diamonds.
3.7: Arrive at a split in the trail. Go left. Although the trail to the right has the white diamonds you've been following, it leads away to a campground.
4.0: Cross an asphalt road and continue on the trail following the white diamond blazes.
4.6: Cross another asphalt road.
4.8: Arrive back at parking lot.

1. If returning to Charlotte, on you drive home, drive down the eastern side of Lake Norman via 16 S for a more scenic, rural view.
2. Stop by Cookout for a chocolate cherry milkshake.

My Day
Weather: 34 and sunny
Drink: Orange juice
Song: Boogie Chillin by John Lee Hooker—"Let that boy boogie woogie, cuz it in him, and it got to come out..."
Water: 6 oz.

Trail Facts

  • State: NC
  • City: Charlotte
  • Distance: 0.0
  • Contact: (704) 528-6350
  • Land Type: State Park