Reedy Creek Nature Center
The Nature Center at Reedy Creek Park
This Park has two different names: Reedy Creek Park and Reedy Creek Nature Preserve. This park is one of my favorite places to go hiking. It is nearby my house (about 45 minute drive) and while hiking on these lovely trails you get the feeling you are not in the city. I would highly recommend wearing hiking boots on these trails because of all the tree roots and muddy spots you need to cross.
Reedy Creek Park is located on 116 acres and offers picnic shelters and grills, two playgrounds, 18-hole disc golf course, a fishing pier, off-leash dog park, and athletic fields and courts. Admission is free to both the park and the nature preserve.
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve is located on 727 of natural, forested acres. It has a Nature Center with an exhibit hall and gift shop. The Nature Center offers a bird viewing area, live animals and a backyard habitat garden with an outdoor composting area. It has mixed pine and hardwood, open fields, lakes and streams. It offers over 10 miles of hiking trails that offer a variety of terrains and scenic views of small lakes, forests, fields, streams, wildlife, and is also home to the historical Robinson Rockhouse ruins.
Map of the Location for Reedy Creek Nature Park in Charlotte, NC
Visitors can check out a rod and reel for the day, free of charge, from the Nature Center. Fishing is allowed at the Dragonfly and Kingfisher Ponds. Ages 16 and up are required to have a valid North Carolina fishing license. Equipment must be returned in good condition. Fishing licenses and bait to be used are not sold at the park.
Entrance to one of the picnic shelters
Sassafras Trail is a 0.6 mile loop trail that is rated easy. It begins behind the Park’s picnic shelter areas and passes through shady, upland hardwood trees of oak and hickory and runs into the Sierra Loop Trail. Dragonfly Pond can be accessed from this trail through a short connector.
Sierra Loop Trail is a 1.5 mile loop trail that is rated Moderate because of a few uphill and downhill sections. It begins and ends with the Sassafras Trail. This trail was constructed by volunteers from the Central Piedmont chapter of the Sierra Club.
Robinson Rockhouse Trail is a 0.5 mile loop trail and Is rated Moderate. It is accessed from the Sierra Loop Trail. This site was excavated the UNC Charlotte Campus archeologists. The Rockhouse is believed to have been built in 1790. An exhibit of the dig is located in the Nature Center. The ruins are on the National Registry of Historic Places.
South Fork Trail is a 0.25 mile trail rated Moderate with a few uphill and downhill sections. It begins at the Umbrella Tree Trail and ends at the Sierra Loop Trail. This trail passes through rich woodland areas and crosses one creek. Bird watchers and botany enthusiasts will find this trail especially interesting.
Big Oak Trail is 1.0 mile and rated Easy. This trail parallels Plaza Road Extension at the southern end of the Nature Preserve before connecting back to the Umbrella Tree Trail.
Umbrella Tree Trail is a 1.0 mile trail and is rated Moderate with some uphill and downhill sections. This trail passes through some of the most significant areas of the Nature Preserve. Hikers have the opportunity to walk through the mature hardwood forest that contains rich flora and fauna. Large boulders dot the scenery along the trail.
Dragonfly Pond Trail is a 1.0 mile gravel loop trail and is rated Moderate with some uphill and downhill sections. It begins and ends at the Nature Center parking lot. It passes through hardwood forests and follows the shoreline of Dragonfly Pond. Hikers can enjoy wildflowers and see some aquatic wildlife such as mallard ducks, turtles sunbathing on rocks and plenty of dragonflies!
Sights of some of the trails at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scenes of the Robinson Rockhouse RuinsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Robinson Rockhouse Ruins
Stones from the local terrain were used to build Robert Robinson and his family a house of stone sometime between 1775 and 1800. Back in early Charlottean history you had to have land and wealth to build a house of stone rather and wood. Included in the house were large stone steps to the main entry, two large living areas with fireplaces on the first and second floors, and a third floor attic.
One local occupation at that time was blacksmithing, which is the job of making metal fillings and shoes for horses. Evidence of a small blacksmith shop is located on the property from which several metal pieces and fittings were found. Its remote location was protection against vandals and souvenir seekers, but not against the forces of nature since storms and falling trees have caused major damage on the structure.
A huge Elm tree fell a long time ago and caused major damage to the exterior walls and all of the original wood, roof, and floor structures. This decaying hunk of tree still lies next to the house to this day. So much damage was done by this tree that there is little evidence to tell of the roof, side wall, or chimney forms. Now only a lone section of original masonry rises higher than a few feet above piles of stone rubble. The remaining stone wall panels show the extraordinary skill of the masons who built the house.
Fun Facts About North Carolina WildlifeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Reservations for the Picnic shelters can be made by calling 311 or (704) 336-7600 Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Several picnic shelters are fully accessible. If you wish to reserve an athletic field, you can contact the Northeast Park District Athletic Coordinator at (704) 336-8485. If you need to book a really large athletic event, or a school or university event, contact (704) 336-8866.
Bicycle and motor vehicle use in the Nature Preserve is only allowed on paved parking surfaces. This is to prevent trail erosion and limit disturbances to wildlife and sensitive habitats. However, the county has many paved Greenway trails (link) that are perfect for biking. Mountain bike trails can be found at the following locations:
- Jetton Park on Lake Norman
- Ramsey Creek Park
- Renaissance Park
- Colonel Francis Beatty Park
- North Meck Park
- US National White Water Center
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Rules at the Nature Preserve
- Hiking trails are only for pedestrians
- For your safety, walk with a friend(s) and stay on designated trails
- Bicycle and motorized vehicles are only allowed on paved roads
- Collection, removal, or disturbance of any natural or cultural object is prohibited
- Alcoholic beverages are prohibited (except with a valid shelter reservation and permit)
- Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet
- No swimming or wading is allowed
- Introduction of plants or animals to the Preserve is prohibited
- Children under 16 are required to wear a helmet while riding bicycles, skateboards, or rollerblades.
- No weapons or firearms are allowed.
Other Interesting Places in Charlotte, NC
- Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a must-visit spectacular botanical garden and landmark of this area located along the banks of Lake Wylie in Belmont, North Carolina.
© 2013 Michelle Dee