The Charlotte area continues to grow as a welcoming location for all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts. For many of us, our outdoor training and recreation team includes our best four legged friends. Dog parks, greenways, and pooch friendly bars all make our region a happy place to stop and paws to smell the, well, everything.
To get the low down we’ve talked to a panel of Local Charlotte experts. Shadow, Dixie, Luna, Artie, Chase, and Nicki have voted on their favorite locales to run, swim, eat, and get away from that know-it-all cat back home.
Charlotte and most surrounding communities have strict rules regarding leashes for your pooch. The typical restriction is a leash no more than 6 feet. Take those regulations seriously. Fines can be over $100. There are, however, some designated spots for your pal to let loose. No place is better suited to stretching all four legs and having a game of leash-free fetch than the off leash dog park.
Shadow and Dixie love the 5 acres of wide open running room at William R Davie. Two separated areas allow dogs less or more than 20 lbs to associate together. It’s one of the largest off leash areas in Charlotte and is located off Pineville-Mathews rd in South Charlotte.
For Artie and Luna, George Poston Park in Gastonia is a little less hectic getaway. This park tends to be less busy than others so this location can be a good choice for dogs that aren’t used to a crowd of other lets get friendly fast dogs. Luna and Artie like the fact that there is always a tennis or rubber ball laying around to play with should someone forget to bring their favorite toys along.
Other options are Barkingham Park in Reedy Creek on the east side, Ramsey Creek Park in Cornelius to the north, Frazier park uptown, and Ray’s Fetching Meadows at McAlpine Creek Park off of Independence. All are listed and explained on the Charmeck website.
Greenways are also a great place to stretch your legs. Leash laws are firmly in place here and the dog abides, but you can’t beat greenways for miles of easy path. McMullen Creek is where Nicki likes to take her human. Several miles of wide, hard packed trail gives her plenty of space and there are doggie clean up supplies available. A little closer to uptown, Little Sugar Creek greenway gives urban pups the opportunity roam.
If you and your dog are looking for singletrack trails and water, Charlotte has plenty of options to choose from. Nicki enjoys a trip down to Anne Close Springs Greenway. The Haggis trail runs around a lake where she likes to stick her feet in as far as her leash will allow. The entire panel of canine experts suggests Latta Plantation. Miles of trail around the lake make a perfect place to spend the day. The only negative is that you have to share some of the trails with horses. Crowders Mountain is a favorite among humans, but Luna and Artie enjoy the water station at the main trail head and love the easy stroll along the Lake Loop. For sheer mileage and water frontage though, Chase suggests her favorite squirrel harassing hang out, Lake Norman State Park.
As an alternative to dog parks and greenways, you can’t go wrong with The US National Whitewater Center. Dozens of miles of trail are great for exercise but it’s the patio that really sells it for our panelists. Luna likes that she can socialize with other dogs while Artie just hopes for clumsy diners to drop a few morsels at the full service restaurant. The good people at the center even leave water buckets out for a quick drink and conveniently located bags for poop collection (admittedly, our panelists didn’t quite understand why this was necessary). Check out Tuck Fest for the ultimate dog jumping competition in April.
Speaking of eating and drinking, there are several other places to take your dog along for a meal or a beer. Shadow and Dixie really like the patio at Toast for breakfast and the String Bean in Belmont for dinner. Nicki suggests The Dog Bar in NoDa if you’re looking for a place to smell and be smelled. The Lucky Dog Bark and Brew in Cornelius is a haven for beer and dog lovers with an off leash area, sports bar, grooming salon, and boarding service.
No outdoor adventure should begin without getting geared up. Besides the pet superstores, our group of canines suggest two local spots to get your dog backpack and folding water bowl. The Canine Cafe off of South Blvd and the The Happy Dog Cafe in Belmont NC will help you get your dog ready to go.