Check it out! Over the weekend, we discovered a new favorite local hiking/biking destination: Forney Creek Conservation Area
. Ever heard of it? Me neither. But stay-at-home has me digging deeper into Charlotte’s treasure trove of outdoor recreation resources.
A straight shot up Brookshire Freeway/NC-16 North, Forney Creek Conservation Area is located in Denver, NC, just 30 minutes from Uptown. Easy to get to, plenty of parking, and multiple trail options winding through more than 200 spacious acres of nature — everything we could want from a stay-at-home-friendly outing.
Protected by the Catawba Lands Conservancy
, this space comprises Sally’s Y Preserve and Catawba Springs Preserve, both of which offer Carolina Thread Trail
options for hiking and biking.
The trailhead access point, marked with a map kiosk, is just off Forney Creek Parkway. Roadside parking is allowed, but you can also use the Sally’s Y parking lot about 0.2 miles away. Take a short spur trail from the access point to an intersection of three hiking/biking options: the Katheryn G. Clark Trail, the Forney Creek Trail and Sally’s Y fitness trail. The intersection is well marked and signs will point you in the right direction. Below is what you’ll find on each option.
Katheryn G. Clark Trail
: From the trailhead intersection, take a right to hop a 0.8-mile (one way) trail toward the southern end of the preserve. This is our favorite option. The single-track, natural-surface trail begins with a trip over a 66-foot suspension bridge, which is always a fun feature. Immediately after the bridge you’ll find a small challenge course. The rest of the single-track trail rolls gently through dense green forest full of foliage and wildlife (we spotted deer and heard the call of bobwhite quail on our hike). It ends at a turnaround point just before Optimist Club Rd. The Katheryn G. Clark Trail through the Sally’s Y Preserve is a segment of the Carolina Thread Trail
Forney Creek Trail
Sally’s Y fitness trail
: From the trailhead intersection, take a left to hop on the 1.7-mile (one way) trail toward the northern end of the preserve. This natural-surface trail is wider and flatter and seems slightly more well-traveled. It traverses a couple of boardwalks and winds its way to two ponds, each offering an overlook. It ends at a turnaround point about a quarter-mile past the end of the second pond. The Forney Creek Trail through the Catawba Springs Preserve is also a segment of the Carolina Thread Trail
: From the trailhead intersection, take either a left or a right to hop on a 1.6-mile loop trail. This is an easy wooded trail great for all ages to explore nature. We didn’t hike the whole thing, but this is a good option if you prefer a loop over an out-and-back.
On our visit, the kids rode bikes while we walked the dog and everyone enjoyed their experience.
Please note that bike riding is not permitted if the trail is wet. If it has rained lately or your tires make tracks, opt for a hike by foot. It’s also worth noting that this is low-lying area that largely follows the banks of a creek. As such, after rain, some days may be too muddy even for a hike.
One other consideration is that there are no restroom facilities. Plan accordingly!
I get excited anytime we discover a new outdoor recreation destination, but I’m particularly pleased with Forney Creek Conservation Area. This is a beautiful space with lots of options. I think you’ll find it to be quite enjoyable, too.
How to get there:
Sally’s YMCA is located at 1601 Forney Creek Parkway, Denver, NC 28037. The trailhead access point is less than 0.2 mile past Sally’s Y on the right. It is marked by a map kiosk. Parking is available at Sally’s Y or on the street by the trailhead.
Don’t forget to pack
- Comfortable walking shoes: Something supportive, but hiking boots aren't necessary.
- Bikes and helmets: Optional, but fun.
- Water: Pack plenty for during and after; there are no facilities for refills.
- Snacks: Take a break and refuel.
- Bug spray: Especially during warmer months.
- Hats, sunscreen and sunglasses: The trails are mostly shaded, but not completely.
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