Trail Tuesday: Ten Great Trails to Hike, Bike, or Run in the Carolinas

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I am always incorporating fun activities to help me stay in shape. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do outside of my structured workouts since it truly allows me to escape the busyness of the world. I enjoy the moments of deep reflection and silence when I’m outdoors. Hiking is an enjoyable way I stay fit and also helps me get some extra steps in!

  1. McMullen Creek, Lower McAlpine, and Four Mile Creek Greenways. These greenways are heavily traveled by bikers, runners, and walkers. If you don’t have a dog, be ready to have major pet envy! It seems like every other person is walking with their adorable companion.
  2. McDowell Nature Preserve. The lake is my happy place and this trail loops around a cove on Lake Wylie. I usually go here if I’m looking for a relaxing, slow-paced walk through the woods.
  3. U.S. National Whitewater Center. I’ve ran an 8k trail race here, but I really love mountain biking on the trails. There are trails for novice, intermediate, and expert riders. If you live in the Charlotte metro region and have not visited USNWC yet, I forgive you as long as you visit this year! I am in love with this place.

Here are some other trails I enjoy in North Carolina:

  1. Crowders Mountain State Park. This park holds a special place in my heart. It was one of the first trails I discovered after moving to Charlotte and I genuinely enjoy all the trails. Views stretch for 25 miles (on clear days) once you reach the peak.
  2. Kings Mountain Nature Trail at Kings Mountain State Park. The trails here are fairly easy and meander through heavily wooded areas. It’s very peaceful and you’ll likely have the trail to yourself most of the hike so you can do stupid things like balance on tree stumps without looking like an idiot in front of strangers.
  3. Chimney Rock State Park. I enjoyed the hike up the stairs to the rock summit. It was a nice way to get my heart beating. Beautiful views!
  4. South Mountains State Park. This place is truly out in the middle of nowhere but I absolutely love the hike up to the waterfall. This trail also has a lot of stairs so be ready!
  5. Itusi Trail and Lake Shore Trail at Lake Norman State Park. Lake Shore Trail is a 5 mile hiking trail while the Itusi Trail combines several different loops ideal for mountain bikers and hikers. There are well over 15 miles of trails.
  6. Grandfather Mountain. I haven’t actually hiked the main trails here since you must have a permit to hike. I’ve heard the trails are a bit challenging, but I am looking forward to hiking them in the near future. I visited the attraction and was able to experience the mile-high swinging bridge and breathtaking views of the vistas from atop the rocks.
  7. Mount Mitchell State Park. Some of my most tranquil moments I have experienced in North Carolina have been at this park. Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi and offers extraordinary views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is a short stroll from the parking lot up to the peak or you can venture into the woods for a longer hike.

I love hiking because it allows me to live a healthy and active lifestyle outside of the gym! It’s all about balance.

Where is your favorite place to hike?

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