If we had to give the award for one of the most beautiful cities in the US, it has to be Charlotte, North Carolina.
Often overlooked by some of its more famous counterparts, Charlotte is quickly becoming a highly rated destination and is the second-largest banking center in the United States.
That’s all well and good, but we talk about running and exploration here; so how do its trails rank against some of the other locations in the country?
The good news is that it is sprawling with some of the most amazing trails that are suitable for all levels: from inner-city loops to meditative and peaceful park runs.
Here’s our take on some of the best running trails in Charlotte, North Carolina.
We start with one of the most popular running spots in the area, this iconic run is definitely not to be missed.
For those who want an easy run around town, this 3-mile trail will keep you fit without much effort. It’s located in the heart of Myers Park, so expect lots of greenery and stunning views.
The path is flat, so it’s perfect for beginners or even families with kids.
Four Mile Creek Greenway
If you’re looking for something that’s more secluded and features a number of wild terrains, be sure to check out the Four Miler Creek Greenway.
This 4-mile loop takes you through quiet neighborhoods, forests, and parks. There’s also plenty of space to explore as there are no roads to cross.
If you have extra time, continue on to the nearby Greenways Park where there are several playgrounds and picnic tables available.
Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop
Time to pick up the pace as we look to tackle a moderately challenging loop near Charlotte.
This 7-kilometer jaunt starts off at historic SouthPark Mall before cutting through the woods and ending back at the mall.
The first half of the loop is mostly paved, while the latter part is made up of dirt paths. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash so bear this in mind before heading out with the puppy.
Sadly, you won’t be running into any aliens on this trail. But if you happen to find yourself in the middle of the forest, you can always look forward to a relaxing nature walk, instead!
Area 51 is home to many different plants and animals, including frogs, turtles, birds, rabbits, deer, and snakes. The creeks found in this location will cover around 11 miles which makes for a great run during the fall.
Time to head back into the city. This famous trail will run along the Light Rail and hits most of downtown as it leads into uptown.
There are eight stops along the route, so you’ll be able to see the sights along the way. If you plan to stop at the shops along either side of the tracks, make sure to arrive early.
Once your run ends, hop on board the trolley again and enjoy a trip back to the city!
Clarks Creek Greenway
A little further out of town, this 2-mile trail winds through a rural landscape along Clarks Creek and is beautiful to run either during the colder months or in the heart of Summer.
You’ll encounter fields, barns, and trees along the way. Don’t forget to bring water when you go out since the creek doesn’t flow year-round.
Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Located just outside of Matthews, this trail runs parallel to I-277 and offers a scenic 5.5-mile run through rolling hills and forests.
What we like about this train is that it’s not too far from the action, yet still manages to feel like you’re running in an empty part of the world.
The path is wide enough for runners to pass each other and there are benches along the way if you need to rest. Bring plenty of water though since the only source of water is the creek itself.
The Dilworth Loop is a 3-mile stretch of road that takes you through some of the best parts of Charlotte. This 5.5-mile route will have you set off from Uptown near Marshall Park, and will run down to Little Sugar Creek, and Freedom Park.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot some of the most wonderful wildlife on this route. Along the Little Sugar Stream expect to see ducks, blue herons, and maybe even a soft-shelled turtle!
US National Whitewater Center
If you’re happy to do a bit of driving or fancy taking some time to explore the outer areas of the city, then make sure to head over to the US National Whitewater Center.
Located around 20 minutes west of Uptown, you’ll find the official Olympic training center for the Whitewater slalom racing.
Amongst the athletes and facilities you can expect to find over 40 miles of trails that are not only popular for runners, but avid mountain cyclists.
Anne Springs Close Greenway
You can find this delightful trail over a large 2,100-acre nature preserve down in Rock Hill. This is not only ideal for runners but there are many hiking trails that offer a challenge for all levels.
There is a mixture of paved trails as well as nature trails that range in various lengths. Just be wary that there is a small daily fee to have access to the trails, but it’s totally worth the entry fee.
Sharon Road – West Gleneagles Road
Located 10 miles due south of downtown, is a route that will take you through some of the most pleasant neighborhoods in the state. It’s a straight shot from Sharon Road West to Gleneagles Road.
This one is ideal for those that aren’t looking for an intense run and want to take in the sights close to the Charlotte downtown area. and in our opinion, the three miles should be on every runner’s traveling list when in this area.
McAlpine Creek Park
Within the confines of Charlotte is a popular 5k cross-country course that is home to a championship route, which can be found at McAlpine Creek Park.
Located only 15 minutes from Uptown, although you’ll find lots of competitive runners on this trail, it’s also a great place for a serene run at a lower intensity.
A quick tip: head to the Monroe Entrance and swing by the Ranger station to get a full view of the course map.
Rock Hill – Piedmont Medical Center Trail
There are many hotels and accommodations that are located near the Rock Hill and Riverwalk area. And many out-of-town white-collar workers will take the time to get a run-in throughout the multi-use paths next to the Catawba River.
One such trail is the Piedmont Medical Trail, which runs alongside the river and is just a short walk away from the medical facility.
McDowell Creek Greenway
Near the edge of Birkdale Village, you’ll find the McDowell Creek Greenway trailhead; a three-mile there-and-back-again winding route that takes you along the creek from Sam Furr Road to Westmoreland Road.
Expect to be taken on a journey through woods, fields and so much more that is suitable for all manner of fitness enthusiasts.
Fourteen of our favorite trails are guaranteed to entice all manner of runners at all levels of fitness and experience.
Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned pro, these routes will help you reach your goals. So if you’re ready to hit the pavement, then it’s time to book a road trip or flight to North Carolina, and begin your adventure!