Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Falcon Trail

Here’s a fun outing off the beaten path. Plenty of parking. A beautiful, expansive pond-side park for a picnic. A covered bridge and two swinging bridges. And a long, winding, multi-terrain trail for hiking or biking.

That’s what you’ll get when you take a trip to the Carolina Thread Trail’s Falcon Trail in Stanly County, N.C., a little under an hour from uptown Charlotte.

The moderate 2.7-mile (one way) Falcon Trail, which connects the towns of of Richfield and Misenheimer, is mostly flat and mostly shaded with a lot of fun features that make the outing not only refreshing, but engaging.

The trail starts at Richfield Park, where you’ll find an 18-hole disc golf course, baseball field, fishing pond and picnic island. When you pull in the park entrance, take a right and follow the gravel drive to a large parking area. The trailhead will be on your right and is well marked.

It’s tempting to head straight for the lake, but know that the trail will loop you by it and its signature bridges within a half mile of your trek.

The first thing we noticed on our visit was the wildlife. We spotted at least three blue herons, dozens of turtles, and some hawks.

The trail, which is marked by bright yellow blazes (you can’t miss them!), starts out pea gravel and borders the Curl Tail Creek. This loops around the baseball field and brings you to the pond.

Go straight to follow the trail across the covered bridge, but first stop for a trip across the swinging bridges to your left. These lead to the park’s picnic island. Take a minute here to notice the abundance of snapping turtles and skip a rock or two.

Hop back on the trail when you’re done playing. The next stretch is natural surface and shaded, followed by an expanse of wide-open fields winding through farmland and dotted with houses.

Soon, you’ll come to a small road crossing that will lead you back into the woods. Cross a wooden footbridge and make your way up to the Pfeiffer University sports complex and campus. Here, you’ll follow the sidewalk (look for the directional trail signs) back into the woods for the last stretch, which is natural surface and follows the Curl Tail Creek through the woods. The trail ends at Wesley Chapel Rd. in Misenheimer.

Note: There are a number of small boardwalk bridges throughout the trail, which runs largely through low-lying areas. These can be slippery and some may have shifted after a hard rain. Keep this in mind when planning a trip and consider wearing shoes you don’t mind getting muddy if it has rained lately.

This trail, which is good for hiking, jogging or biking, is open from dawn to dusk. There are restroom facilities at Richfield Park.

We had never heard of the Falcon Trail until recently, but I'm glad we checked it out. On the way home, our oldest asked if we can go back -- the mark of a fun and successful outing! I told him yes and will look forward to it, too. 

How to get there:
Richfield Park is located at Richfield Park Rd., Richfield, N.C., 28137. From Charlotte, take NC 49. The park entrance will be on your left a half-mile past the intersection of NC 49 and US 52. Just inside the park entrance, take a right and follow the gravel road to the parking area.

Don't forget to pack:
  • Comfortable shoes: Some you don't mind getting muddy if it has rained lately
  • Water: Pack for after your outing if it's especially warm out
  • Snacks: Or a picnic at the park before or after your hike
  • Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen: There are stretches of wide open spaces at the park and along the trail
  • Bikes and helmets: A fun option

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