Best Dog-Friendly Hiking Spots Around Charlotte

Hiking in the Charlotte area is always a fun activity to enjoy. Exploring new territories, getting sunshine and exercise, soaking in beautiful views of nature, there are a lot of positive benefits. Bringing your dog along can be a fun way to provide them the same benefits and help increase your bond with your pet. Within the surrounding areas of Charlotte, there are several locations that are great places to hike with your pet.

Crowder’s Mountain State Park

Crowder’s Mountain State Park is debatably the best place to hike in Charlotte with your dog. Located in Gaston county, less than an hour’s drive from Charlotte, it has many resources to offer. 5,126 acres of park include 11 different trails, beautiful scenery, a lake, and two summits with great views of the surrounding 25 miles. On a sunny day, you will often see many dogs out with their owners enjoying the beautiful trails. There are even areas to run, campsites, and places to access the lake for paddle boarding. Some of the hikes can be a little rocky and even a little challenging. We recommend bringing lots of water for you and your pup for the longer hikes.

Latta Nature Center and Preserve

Latta Plantation in Huntersville, North Carolina offers a lot to its visitors. With 1,345 acres and 16 miles of trails, including some for horseback riding, there is lots of potential to explore local wildlife and natural views. The Mountain Island Lake offers beautiful scenery, and the Hill trail offers a bit of a challenge for you and your pup. If you are looking for a fun day of adventures, Latta is a great place to explore.

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve

Located near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, McDowell Nature Center serves as an access point to 1,132 acres of preserve. There are 7 miles of trails available to hike with your pup and observe the beautiful scenery. There are also campground sites available, as well as a 20 acre island “Copperhead Island” with its own hiking trails. 

Veternarian clinic in Waxhaw ncReedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve

Located off of Rocky River Road, Reedy Creek Nature Preserve offers 927 acres of forest within Reedy Creek park. There are over 10 miles of trails to explore with your pet, including views of streams, lakes, forests, fields and the resident wildlife. 

King’s Mountain State Park

Located in South Carolina, but less than a day’s drive from Charlotte, is King’s Mountain State Park. Offering 6,885 acres of nature and 20+ miles of hiking, this park is full of adventure for you and your beloved dogs. There is a $2 day admission charge to get into the park, but with this many miles of trails, camping might be a fun option to maximize your stay. There are over 100 campsite options available throughout the park.

Luna Bean enjoying a hike at Crowder’s Mountain.

What to bring?

If you are bringing your dog along for a hike, a few things are important to be sure of before you actually hike! 

  1. Ensure your pet is healthy and up to date on their vaccinations (rabies, dhpp, bordetella, lepto) and heartworm/flea/tick medication. Being outside and around other dogs can expose your dogs to diseases and possibly exposure to heartworms and fleas, so prevention is important. 
  2. Be sure your pet is maintained on a 6 foot leash at all times according to park policy.
  3. If your dog gets anxious in new situations or around other dogs, start small – work on walking around the neighborhood first or bring a buddy with a dog they are comfortable with to help them feel more comfortable. 
  4. Bring water and treats.
  5. Ensure your pet is showing off their rabies tag or carry a copy of their certificate with you.
  6. Be sure your pet has a slip proof collar, harness and secure leash! 
  7. Consider microchipping your pet. When out on the trail in an unfamiliar location, it can be helpful to know you can reunite with your pet if it ever was to get lost. By microchipping, your pet can be identified and hopefully returned to you even if they slip their collar or leash.

Hiking with your pet can be a great activity to increase the human-animal bond while getting good exercise and exploring amazing views. There are a multitude of hiking areas around the Charlotte area, not just the ones that are listed here. If you have any questions about how to prepare your pet for hiking, please contact your local veterinarian and veterinary staff. Happy trails!