Monday, August 20, 2018

Seven Oaks Preserve Trail

One of our favorite nearby trails is in Catawba Lands Conservancy's Seven Oaks Preserve in Belmont, just over 30 minutes west of Uptown Charlotte.

Good for both hiking and trail riding, the Seven Oaks Preserve Trail, part of the Carolina Thread Trail, is 2.8 miles (one way).
The flat, natural surface, out-and-back trail hugs the banks of Lake Wylie, winding through hardwood forests and wildflower fields. It offers plenty of shade and opportunities to spot wildlife.

The biggest obstacles along the trail are roots and rocks. The trail also sports a handful of wooden footbridges. It's perfect for a hike and a pleasant place to ride for beginners and experienced bikers alike.

Two spur trails off Seven Oaks Preserve lead to the adjacent Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (bikes are not allowed on these trails) if you want to include a destination in your outing.

This quiet trail is popular among locals, but never overly crowded. A good place to be in nature whether you're on foot or two wheels.

Bonus tip: The Cotton Candy Factory is a short drive from the Seven Oaks Preserve trailhead parking lot. Grab a sweet treat after your hike or ride. The shop is located in downtown Belmont, which also offers some restaurants if you want to grab a bite to eat.

Note: Bikes are not permitted on the trail after rain. If your bike leaves wheel prints, the trail is too wet to ride.

How to get there:
The Seven Oaks Preserve trailhead parking lot is located at 6900 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012. The gravel lot has about a dozen parking spots and an information kiosk.

Don't forget to take:
  • Shoes: Comfortable hiking shoes will do.
  • Bikes and helmets: This is a great beginner trail.
  • Bug spray: Keep the mosquitoes, gnats and ticks at bay.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Giant Yellow Seesaw

When's the last time you played on a seesaw? To me, they seem largely relegated -- along with merry-go-rounds and diving boards -- to childhood memories.
But the other day we stumbled on a big, fun, yellow seesaw that can be ridden by children and adults alike.
Located on the Fowler Porch next to the Bland Street Lynx light rail station along the Charlotte Rail Trail, the seesaw is the work of local artist, Ben Parrish, who also built the surrounding railing.
It's made of a long, heavy construction beam and is sturdy enough to perch an adult or more than one kid on an end to even out weight distribution as needed. While you play, watch the trains come and go and enjoy a pretty spectacular skyline.

The big yellow seesaw is sure to stoke your inner child and delight the young ones.
And, if you've got time and interest in some more nostalgic playground fun, visit Edna's Porch less than half a mile toward Uptown on the Charlotte Rail Trail, where you'll find oversized swings and a spray ground fountain.

Of course, there are plenty of other things to do along the Charlotte Rail Trail. Check out this post for more.
How to get there:
The giant yellow seesaw is located beside the Bland Street Lynx light rail station on the Charlotte Rail Trail just north of Bland St.
Don't forget to take:
  • Your nostalgic, child-like glee: Seesaws are fun for all ages!
  • Bikes and helmets: Consider commuting to the seesaw on two wheels. Or go for a fun stroll by foot.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Eastover's New Greenway

There's something new in one of Charlotte's oldest neighborhoods, and it is well worth checking out. Charlotte Mecklenburg Storm Water Services and Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation recently partnered to complete a serene stretch of flat, paved greenway running through the heart of Eastover.
Just three miles from Uptown, the greenway starts at Mint Museum Randolph and finishes at Meadowbrook Rd. just under a mile away. Many of the towering trees through which the trail meanders are probably as old as the neighborhood, which was developed in the 1920s, giving visitors the distinct feel of a trip through an old growth forest.
The greenway first traverses the massive front lawn of the museum, then crosses a pedestrian bridge. Hugging the banks of a stretch of Briar Creek, the greenway is home to all kinds of wildlife (we saw deer trot past on a recent visit). The hum of the cicadas, frogs and songbirds all but vanquishes the den cars traveling down of nearby Randolph Rd.
The project was completed to improve the water quality in Briar Creek, improve drainage in the area, and connect the Mint Museum to Catawba Lands Conservancy's Eastover Ridge Preserve at Meadowbrook Rd. The Preserve is a permanently protected, 21-acre wildlife refuge.
This greenway is perfect for joggers, bike riders and walkers of all ages. The pedestrian bridge that soars over the creek is a fun feature, offering a great vantage point for observing critters and plant life up and down the trail. This is an easy, enjoyable outdoor escape that is close to town, but feels miles from it.
How to get there:
Mint Museum Randolph is located at 2730 Randolph Rd., Charlotte, NC, 28207. The greenway trailhead is near the parking lot entrance.
Don't forget to pack:
  • Shoes: Comfortable walking shoes.
  • Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses: The greenway is only partially shaded.
  • Bikes, helmets, strollers, scooters, skates, etc.: The smooth, paved trail is perfect for all non-motorized wheels. Don't forget your helmet!
  • Bug spray: Fend off mosquitoes, gnats and ticks.