Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Mountain Creek Park

This past weekend, the Charlotte area's coolest new park opened to well-deserved fanfare. Mountain Creek Park, located at the northern tip of Lake Norman in Sherrills Ford, about 45 minutes from uptown, is 606 acres of recreation bliss. It checks all the boxes for family-friendly outdoor adventure fun. 

Parents with young children will appreciate the large, shiny, new playground and paved walking paths for strollers, scooters, skates and beginner bike riders. 

Sports enthusiasts will enjoy the pickleball courts, canoe and kayak launch and hiking trails. 

Pet lovers will be thrilled with the spacious dog park and shady walking paths. 

Fisher-people will like the fishing pier and waterfront observation platform. 

And mountain bikers rejoice: Mountain Creek Park features an extensive 19.52-mile network of trails, dedicated bike-only trails with countless route options, a pump track, a skills course and tool stations. (Here's a trail map.) 

There are also restrooms, plenty of parking, picnic shelters, an outdoor classroom, and a paved ADA-accessible trail that meanders through a quiet cove. 

Best of all, this Catawba County park is free and open to the public from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. 

Miss the grand-opening celebration? No worries. The party's just getting started. Mountain Creek Park will remain a worthy destination for years to come. Next time you're looking for a new place to play and explore, keep this recreation retreat in mind. 

How to get there
Mountain Creek Park is located at 6554 Little Mountain Rd., Sherrills Ford, NC 28673. 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Historic Brattonsville

There's lots to do and see at Historic Brattonsville, located in Rock Hill, SC, about 45 minutes from uptown. But this Juneteenth weekend, let me direct your attention to a new exhibit: "Liberty & Resistance: Reconstruction and the African-American Community at Brattonsville, 1865-1877."

This exhibition tells a powerful story of four "freedom seekers," who fled Bratton Plantation in search of freedom. If follows their journeys from escape, to military service in the Civil War, to civil rights advocacy to, in some cases, lynching. It's at once heartbreaking and inspiring, tragic and extraordinary, hard to reconcile and vitally important to acknowledge and understand. 

Brattonsville has long sought to tell the stories of the enslaved people who lived, worked and died there. But this exhibit, now part of the federal Network to Freedom program administered by the National Park Service, embraces a different perspective on the lives of some of those who courageously sought freedom and valiantly fought for civil rights. It is located in the newly restored Brick House. 

Historic Brattonsville features more than 30 historic structures and provides visitors the chance to see the evolution of Southern culture from the American Revolutionary War through the American Civil War. It offers an interesting glimpse of local history. Throughout the year, they host a number of events

And, if you like to mix education with outdoor recreation like we do, the site boasts a 6-mile network of hiking trails, full of historical significance and ecological diversity. We enjoyed this 3.9-mile loop. Note: The trails are only meant to be accessed with paid admission. 

Historic Brattonsville is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It's closed on Monday. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for youth ages 4-17, and free for kids 3 and under. 

Whether you head out there this weekend (there's a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or add it to your list of upcoming outings, go ahead and make time to visit Historic Brattonsville. It's a suitable outing for the whole family and an important chance to understand a significant piece of our shared history. 

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Skip the Car Trip Challenge and More

Looking for ways to do your part to combat climate change and make Charlotte the best possible place for all of us to live? Where to start? It can feel overwhelming, if not impossible. BUT, every little bit helps! Which is why I'm thrilled with the Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Area Transportation System (CATS) Skip the Car Trip challenge taking place this week. 

The event encourages and rewards people to minimize time on the road in a single-occupancy vehicle. Since the two biggest air quality pollutants in North Carolina are ground-level ozone and particle pollution, both of which are caused mainly by emissions from cars and trucks, choosing public transit or people-powered modes of transport can make a significant difference for our local environment. 

Skip the Car Trip emphasizes options like getting a transit pass, carpooling, walking and biking, and organizing "trip chains," which means bundling necessary errands into one outing instead of many. Other ideas include shopping local, working from home, and packing or preparing meals instead of commuting to pick up lunch or dinner. 

As if saving the planet isn't reward enough, this challenge comes with prizes. Between June 6 and June 12, whenever you engaged in a trip reduction activity, log it in this form. Then, you're eligible for daily prizes, like an electric lawn mower and passes to the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Win, win, win! 

While you're at it . . . 
You might also consider a couple other ways to participate in the decision-making process for a healthy, equitable, sustainable Charlotte for all. 

Vote in Participatory Budgeting, or PB Meck, a process that allows community members to determine how to best address the needs of their communities by turning ideas into actual project proposals. Check out the proposed projects for your district and vote here

Also, every five years, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation evaluates projects for funding in the Capital Improvement Plan Cycle. This is the process through which decisions are made about the addition, renovation or replacement of County-owned facilities, infrastructure, equipment, and land acquisition. Now's your chance to weigh in on what projects you'd like to see take priority! Weigh in on the public input form here

We'll definitely be participating in this opportunity. I hope you will, too. Lots of little steps can amount to big things!