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Where to Find the Best Running Trails in Charlotte, NC

The Queen City in North Carolina is a great place to live if you love getting out of doors to exercise and explore nature. One way to enjoy fresh air and keep fit is visiting the many running trails Charlotte NC has to offer. Here’s a round-up of our favorites.

Those who are willing to sweat can enjoy runs in Charlotte NC pretty much year round. Running trails in Charlotte NC (ahem) run the gamut. You can pound the pavement, take a jog on a dedicated path along a creek or Greenway, or go a little bit more hard core with a trail run through forests of trees.

Top Running Trails Charlotte NC

Just as runners are devoted to their own choice in shoes, you’ll find different runners have their own particular running paths in Charlotte NC. The good news is that there are many running routes Charlotte NC gives you to choose from.

Charlotte is a fast-growing city, but it’s continuing to work to preserve its tree canopy and natural areas. That means there are many miles of Greenway path for runners to explore. Plans are still in the works to connect them all, but in the meantime, you might check out:

  • Little Sugar Creek Greenway — the trail connects to Freedom Park trails which allows you to run around a 7-acre lake.
  • McAlpine Creek Park — there’s a marked 5k cross country trail in this park Southeast of Uptown Charlotte
  • Mallard Creek and Clark Creek — together these connect for just over 7 miles of uninterrupted running trail near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • McMullen Creek Greenway — you’ll run on gravel, pavement and wood boardwalks on this 5.8 mile, well-shaded path

Other popular running trails Charlotte offers include the Rail Trail, also known at the Trolley Trail, which stretches from South End to Uptown. You’ll pass breweries, restaurants, galleries, and more on this paved 3.5-mile path.

The Booty Loop through Myers Park is a beautiful run through a historic Charlotte neighborhood. It’s best known as a hub for bicyclists, but this 3-mile loop under majestic old-growth oak trees and past mansion-like homes is a lovely, mostly shaded run.

Trail Running Charlotte

There is also a lot of trail running North Carolina has to offer. In the Charlotte area, the top choice is at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. There are over 20 miles of woodland trails extending along the Catawba River for runners to explore.

Those closer to the Fort Mill, SC end of town will more likely want to do trail running at Anne Close Springs (ASC) Greenway or the McDowell Nature Preserve. The ASC Greenway features 2,300 acres of hardwood forests, prairies, creeks, streams, lakes, and ponds. McDowell is the oldest preserve in Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County with forested, rolling terrain around Lake Wylie.

Charlotte Running Organized Events

Charlotte running can also mean participating in one of the many organized events held throughout the year. You can find 5k, 8k, 10k, half/ full marathons, ultras and road/trail fun or competitive runs. Popular events on a Charlotte runner’s calendar include:

  • Several options for Santa or Reindeer fun runs, St. Patrick’s Day runs, and Turkey Trots in different areas of the city such as South Park or University City
  • Race to the Taste — a June 5k that is part of the Taste of Charlotte. Runners get to take over Uptown streets and run past the Bank of America stadium to end up at a finish line where there are free cupcakes in addition to the beer tent and live entertainment
  • Yaisou Greek Festival — an August 5k around the Dilworth and SouthEnd neighborhoods to begin the celebration of Greek heritage
  • Labor Day Trail Race — do 5k or 15k at the Whitewater Center then stick around for its Labor Day Festival
  • Rocktoberfest — an October 5 miler or half marathon with emceed music playing along the route
  • Charlotte Marathon — this November road race typically draws between 5,000 and 10,000 participants for the 5k, 13.1 mile or 26.2-mile distances.
  • Around the Crown — sees runners taking over the city’s 3-mile I-277 loop for a December run that starts and ends in Romare Bearden Park

Whatever your distance or type of surface you like to run, you’re going to be able to find Charlotte running routes that suit your needs.

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