Lacing a peninsula that juts into the beautiful Mountain Island Lake, the trail system at Latta Plantation is an instant respite from a hectic day in the city. Running through a historic plantation and located minutes from several population centers, the 16 miles of gravel road and twisting single track are a go-to for Charlotte area trail runners.
What Makes It Great
The variation in trail surface and surrounding scenery make it difficult to get bored at Latta. Sometimes a straight, wide gravel hill, sometimes a tree covered, root-ridden section of single track, no two miles are exactly the same. Breaking through the forest at water’s edge, several trails in the system offer weary runners a peace-inducing view along the shores of Mountain Island Lake.
It takes 13 named trails to make up the 16 miles at Latta – and that’s not including several short connector trails. Since there are very few substantial hills or technical sections, the real challenge at the park is not getting lost. Or maybe getting lost is the idea. Either way, bring a map or a friend who knows the trails on your first visit.
For a relatively simple to follow 5-ish mile jaunt begin at the nature center parking lot (the first one on the right), then take the Hill trail, loop around on the cove trail (along the lake front, bonus), and back.
Most of the trails at Latta are bike free but you do have to keep your eyes open. The park is known for its equestrian center and several paths are shared by horses. Keep an eye on the trail to avoid running into an unwanted surprise.
Who is Going to Love It
Many of the trails at Latta are gentle enough for stroller-pushing families so it’s a great place for beginner trail runners. More experienced runners also frequent the park for longer runs since there are 16 miles of connected trails. Although you won’t get your hill work at Latta, you can easily put together a great long run. And since many of the trails are gravel, they are more resilient to bad weather making Latta a great rain plan to the trails at the USNWC or Renaissance.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There are several parking lots around Latta but the Nature Center is closest to the entrance and a good place to start. That trailhead is at the back of the parking lot and a trail map kiosk is located near the building. Bathrooms and drinking water are available. While having your dogs leashed is the rule at Latta, it’s also a really good idea. Horses have been known to be spooked by pups on the trail.