North Carolina is often praised for its striking scenery.
Scenic lakes, tree-lined hiking trails, and breathtaking mountain views are just a few of the things you can find at most of North Carolina’s 34 state parks.
There are no state parks in Mecklenburg County, but six of them are within a two-hour drive of Charlotte. Here’s what you need to know about each to make the most of your visit:
Crowders Mountain State Park
Location: 522 Park Office Ln., Kings Mountain, North Carolina 28086
Distance from Charlotte: 30 miles
What to do: Hike miles of trails lined with wildflowers and mountain oleander that lead to the summit of Crowders Mountain and take in panoramic views of Piedmont, or pitch your tent at one of the individual campsites just steps from the parking areas. You can also visit the Visitor Center, which features museum-quality exhibits.
Lake Norman State Park
Location: 759 State Park Road, Troutman, North Carolina 28166
Distance from Charlotte: 46 miles
What to do: Cycle over 30 miles of trails along the shores of Lake Norman or go swimming at the 125-meter-long water beach. You can also bring your fishing rod to cast a line at many designated spots along the park trails, or gather the family for a night outdoors at the campsite, with cooking facilities, restrooms, bathhouse and a fireplace.
Morrow Mountain State Park
Location: 49104 Morrow Mountain Road, Albemarle, NC 28001
Distance from Charlotte: 48 miles
What to do: Bike or hike from the edge of Lake Tillery to the top of Morrow Mountain for a picnic, or pitch a tent at a 106-site family campground. If you’re not in the mood to rough it, you can rent a rustic vacation cabin for an extended stay.
Southern Mountain State Park
Location: 3001 S. Mountain Park, Connelly Springs, North Carolina 28612
Distance from Charlotte: 62 miles
What to do: Set up camp at one of 24 hiking sites and take in views at elevations up to 3,000 feet, or check out the 80-foot waterfall. Experienced anglers (with a fishing license) can try their hand at wild trout fishing in the Jacob Fork River, and mountain bikers are suggested to be in good shape to attempt the 17-mile loop trail.
Lake James State Park
Location: 7321 CN 126, Nebo, CN 28761
Distance from Charlotte: 91 miles
What to do: Go boating on the nearly 7,000 acre lake or rent a canoe, kayak or paddle board to navigate the waters. You can also take your kids for a short hike on the Holly Discovery Trail, which includes kid-friendly activities, or leave them at home and head to the Overmountain Victory Trail, a historic footbridge once used by soldiers in the war. of independence.
Chimney Rock State Park
Location: 431 Main St., Chimney Rock, NC 28720
Distance from Charlotte: 96 miles
What to do: You can’t visit the park without going to Chimney Rock, a 315-foot granite monolith that offers stunning views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. Admission is $17 for adults, $8 for children ages 5-15, and free for ages four and under. The Rocky Broad River, which runs through the park, is also a prime destination for trout anglers.