Parks & Nature
CROWDERS MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
About a half-hour drive west of Charlotte lies Crowders Mountain, the second highest point in Gaston County. Rock climbing at Crowder Mountain—with sheer vertical cliffs dropping 150 feet—promises to be a peak experience. Breathtaking views (on clear days you can see the Queen City!) await atop several hiking trails, which span more than 25 miles. Climbers must register with the park staff. Other activities at the park include camping, canoeing, fishing and picnicking. Hours vary by season. www.ncparks.gov 522 Park Office Lane, 704.853.5375.
Now, this is a city park—98 acres, four baseball fields, two batting cages, 12 tennis courts, four soccer fields, a seven-acre lake, an amphitheater, two playgrounds, walking trails and five outdoor shelters with grills. It’s a great place to escape urbanity and take a walk or just people-watch. Free park admission. hours vary by season. www.charlottesgotalot.com. 1900 East Blvd., 704.432.4280. Map 1, D6
MCDOWELL NATURE CENTER AND PRESERVE
This nature center and preserve offers everything from towering trees, babbling brooks, lake views
and prairie restorations. There are seven miles of trails available to hike and explore, and they’re dog friendly too. Boating and fishing are also encouraged, and if you’re looking to spend your time here for multiple days, try using their campsite. 15222 South York Road, 704.875.1391.
MCGILL ROSE GARDEN
More than 200 varieties of roses along with annuals, perennials and herbs, plus, fountains and statuary by local artists grace the northern edge of Uptown, offering a quiet place for meditation, painting and admiration. It’s no wonder this majestic oasis is a favorite spot for weddings, too. Open Tu-F 10 am-4 pm, Sa 10 am-3 pm. 940 N. Davidson St., 704.905.9808. Map 2, G4
OLD SETTLERS’ CEMETERY
Charlotte’s oldest cemetery is the final resting place of many Revolutionary War veterans as well as many founders of Charlotte, with graves dating between 1774 and 1878. Open daily 6 am-9 pm. 200 W Trade St.
UNC CHARLOTTE BOTANICAL GAR DENS
This natural attraction on the campus of UNC Charlotte consists of a combination of outdoor and indoor garden facilities. Three environments offer a woodland glen, a greenhouse hosting six themed collections, and the gardens, which feature native and non-native plants. Suggested donation: $2. Outdoor gardens open during daylight hours. 9090 Craver Road, 704.687.8622. Map 1, E4