Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mineral Springs Greenway

When I was growing up in Dilworth, the Arboretum was Charlotte’s suburban frontier and Ballantyne was but a twinkle in a developer’s eye. Which is to say we had few compelling reasons to venture much farther from town than SouthPark.

But when I moved back to Charlotte after college and began long-distance cycling, I joined group rides that introduced me to the beauty and wonders of Indian Land, Weddington, Waxhaw, Wesley Chapel and Mineral Springs – all towns about 20 miles south of uptown.

Rich with history, these areas offer long, rolling stretches of single-lane highway winding through expansive farm fields and under old-growth tree canopies. We put in many enjoyable miles crisscrossing the area.

But we abandoned the road bikes after we had our first kid and haven’t spent much time down that way since. Until recently, when we visited Mineral Springs Greenway.

It was fun to return to our old “rolling grounds” – still as pretty as always, even with the noticeable uptick in traffic. And delightful to discover this 1.7-mile (one-way), natural surface stretch of the Carolina Thread Trail, part of the Catawba Lands Conservancy.

Mineral Springs Greenway is open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The trail begins in a gravel parking lot and hugs the banks of a tributary Lee Branch of Twelve Mile Creek. It's fully shaded, quiet and peaceful. The trail is marked with yellow blazes with mile-markers posted every quarter-mile. (Here's a trail map.)

The path is well-worn, but rolling, with some short, steep climbs in places. There are several bridges and stream-crossings along the way. And lots of roots that make trail riding challenging, but not impossible for beginners.

The overgrowth at the far end of the trail seems to indicate folks tend to turn around before they hit the full 1.7 mile mark, but it is still passable.

There are no restrooms at the parking lot, but there is a very nice picnic area along a paved walk just beside the trailhead. Note: Bike riding is not permitted 24 hours after rain to protect the trail.

I'm pleased to have discovered a new reason to visit an old favorite part of our area. If you haven't been to Mineral Springs Greenway, consider discovering it, too!

How to get there:
Parking for the Mineral Springs Greenway is located at 6214 McNeely Rd., Waxhaw, NC, 28173.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Comfortable shoes: No need for boots, unless it has rained recently and you don't want to get your good shoes muddy.
  • Bike and helmet: This is a great, short beginner trail if you want to ride instead of walk.
  • Water: Enough for your adventure, and consider leaving a refill in the car.
  • Snacks or a picnic lunch: Take a break along the trail or at the picnic area by the parking lot.

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