Thursday, July 12, 2018

RibbonWalk Nature Preserve

RibbonWalk Nature Preserve, maintained by Charlotte Mecklenburg Park and Recreation, is where to go when you want to escape into nature, but don't have time or interest in venturing far from town. Just five miles north of uptown, tucked in the wedge between I-77 and I-85 off Nevin Rd., it's a surprisingly accessible place to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some gorgeous green space, fresh air, exercise and solitude.

Dense, lush and serene, RibbonWalk offers several miles of flat, natural surface trails around ponds, through woods, and even over a small covered bridge. Compared to the den of city life that surrounds this escape, the preserve is remarkably, noticeably quiet.

While RibbonWalk tends to be lightly trafficked by fellow hikers, you will find an abundance of wildlife throughout the park. This is an excellent place to spot birds, frogs, turtles, lizards and all kinds of plants and insects. Beware the snakes; we saw a water moccasin once.

Take a peak at the trail map on the information kiosk in the parking lot before you set out. Follow the paved road from the parking lot to the trailheads.

I recommend taking a right on the Wetlands Trail (black square blazes) to start, following it over a boardwalk to the Beech Walk Trail (blue triangles blazes) that will then connect you by taking a right to the Covered Bridge Trail (green circle blazes) to enjoy a couple of the park features. Follow the Covered Bridge Trail until it becomes the Irwin Creek Trail (yellow square blazes), which will lead you back to the paved road you began on. This hike is approximately two miles. The trails are well-marked.

Fun fact: RibbonWalk derived its name from Queen Charlotte's family's gardens, through which pathways "ribboned" their way though the woods.

There are porta-potties in the main parking lot, but no restroom facilities.

How to get there:
RibbonWalk Nature Preserve is located at 4601 Nevin Rd, Charlotte, NC 28269. From the parking lot, follow the paved road past the gates to the forest line, where several trails begin.

Don't forget to take:
  • Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses: The trails are mostly shaded, but there are some open areas.
  • Bug repellant: To ward off mosquitoes, ticks and gnats.
  • Water: There are no facilities to refill, so bring what you think you'll need.
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Note that most of the trails are easy, natural surface pathways, but there's a chance your feet will get wet crossing the boardwalk if you choose to take the Wetlands Trail after a heavy rain.

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