Let’s all take a moment to slowwwww down. Some of the best places to do that in Mecklenburg County are free. Today, we’re going to focus on our Park and Recreation nature preserves. The County manages more than 7,600 acres of nature preserves, protecting our natural resources. If you’ve never been to one, you’re missing out, but we’re going to give you a little preview.  

Clarks Creek Nature Preserve 

This is one of our smaller preserves, but mighty! The grasslands there provide wildlife habitat for several declining bird species such as Eastern Meadowlarks, Prairie Warblers, and Grasshopper Sparrows. The pond and wetlands support aquatic species you can’t find on other preserves. And in the summer, there’s a pretty incredible sprayground right across the street.  

Ribbonwalk Nature Preserve 

You don’t want to miss the American beech tree grove at Ribbonwalk. It’s been designated a Mecklenburg County Treasure Tree site because of the number of large, old trees, which you can get a sneak peek at here. Don’t know what to look for? Their smooth gray tree bark makes the tree look like an elephant’s leg!  

Stevens Creek Nature Preserve 

Find peace and quiet in Mint Hill along the waters of Stevens Creek. This creek is part of the historic range of the federally endangered Carolina Heelsplitter mussel. You’ll be able to learn more about them at our beautiful nature center there.  

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve 

Reedy Creek, on the County’s east side, is quite popular. They welcome about 100,000 visitors every year. With more than 900 acres and ten miles of trails, though, there’s still plenty of room to find some zen. Enjoy the rare sand ridge habitat, see native plants and a historic home site.  

Get Out There! 

This list doesn’t cover every nature preserve we have, of course. That would take much longer. Our largest preserve is Latta with over 1,460 acres! With trails at half of the 26 preserves, there are lots of options to explore! See some of the best of Park and Rec nature preserves on Instagram and Facebook

Thanks to Environmental Education Manager Alice Chambers for her park expertise!