Alongside being North Carolina’s biggest and most vibrant city, Charlotte boasts a number of scenic parks, forests, and creeks, making it a great place to head out for a run!
But no matter whether you prefer running trails or flat paved paths, you won’t be disappointed as Charlotte offers both in equal measure.
So, let’s run through the 15 best running trails in and around Charlotte, NC, that you need to visit for your next run.
Ready? It’s time to lace up!
15 Best Running Trails In Charlotte NC
The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is one of the most picturesque running trails in Charlotte. The trail itself is 8.2 kilometers long, and is just as popular with cyclists, walkers, and birdwatchers as it is with runners!
The Little Sugar Creek Greenway Trail is paved and mostly flat, making it an accessible trail even for beginner runners despite the full length of the trail.
It’s a great trail for training up for 10k runs, however, with views of creeks and tall trees to enjoy along the route.
Spanning more than 900 acres, Reedy Creek Nature Preserve is far from small. This also means it’s home to a host of great trails, the most popular of which is a perfect 5-kilometer run among tall trees and stunning creek views.
So if the Little Sugar Creek Greenway Trail is too long for your liking, the Reedy Creek Nature Preserve Trail is the next best trail to run.
More experienced runners in Charlotte have the option to go off the beaten path too, as Reedy Creek Nature Preserve really does offer a good handful of trails to explore.
Colonel Francis Beatty Park is most popular for its mountain biking trails – but that doesn’t mean it’s not also popular with runners.
The Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop is just under 7 kilometers long, with picturesque lake scenery to enjoy from start to finish.
Beginner runners shouldn’t shy away from this Charlotte running trail, as the trail is mostly flat and can be completed at any pace.
The fact that it’s a circuit also makes the Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop ideal for racking up miles and pace training.
At 8.7 kilometers long, the Clarks Creek Greenway Trail has a similar distance to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway Trail.
It’s also similar in its lush forest greenery and creek views, but differs in how the paths, which are not all paved, tend to get muddy!
Whether that’s a good thing or not (you might enjoy the extra challenge if you consider yourself a hardcore trail runner), the Clarks Creek Greenway is still a picturesque area that’s worth exploring as a nice change of pace from running in the city.
Charlotte NC has no shortage of scenic creeks, and McAlpine Creek Park is another one that’s worth checking out due to how it offers multiple trails, including one paved trail and a cross-country 5k course.
Yep, if you enjoy running short and sweet 5k runs, McAlpine Creek Park has a marked 5k route that’s perfect for working on your 5k PR.
The paved greenway, on the other hand, measures at just over 7.5 kilometers, with yet more trails to explore around the park.
McMullen Creek Greenway follows the course of McMullen Creek, passing various other parks along the way, including McAlpine Creek Greenway and Four Mile Creek Greenway.
The trail itself is just over 5 kilometers long, with flat paths, some of which pass over the creek.
As a result, the McMullen Creek Greenway Trail is a fun trail for 5k runs as, alongside the scenic creek views, the trail also offers various surfaces, including gravel and an elevated wooden boardwalk, that make the trail more interesting!
Looking for another loop? The Evergreen Nature Preserve Loop measures just under 3 kilometers long, making it an easier run than the Colonel Francis Beatty Park Loop that we mentioned earlier.
On top of that, the Evergreen Trail is not the only running trail in Evergreen Nature Preserve. The Potters Road Trail, Norland Loop, Tulip Tree Trail, and Clear Creek Trail are just as great to run, so why not return to visit them all?
Part of two other popular routes, the Lake Norman Bike Route and Carolina Thread Trail, the McDowell Creek Greenway is a great trail run that passes a range of landscapes, from meadows to woodlands.
Despite that, the McDowell Creek Greenway Trail tops off at 1.5 miles. It’s not the longest running trail in Charlotte, as a result, but it is worth visiting for its stunning scenery and wildlife, which include various species of local birdlife.
If you’re looking for one of the best running routes in Charlotte, NC, then The Booty Loop Trail is a popular loop for more than one reason.
It’s paved, for one, as well as a perfect 3-mile loop that’s ideal for running any distance – especially 5k and 10k runs.
Perhaps the best thing about the famous Booty Loop Trail is that you won’t be the only one running.
Runners of all ages and abilities hit this route in the mornings and evenings, since it’s the perfect place to both get fit and train your running ability thanks to the mix of flat and incline elevations.
A popular running route in Charlotte is the Blue Line Rail Trail, going through the streets and parks of the city.
It’s always great to change up your running route, so after you have run a few of the creek trails, the 11-mile Blue Line Rail Trail is worth checking off next.
Like The Booty Loop Trail, the Blue Line Rail Trail is popular among all different kinds of runners. It can get busy, for that reason, but it’s still one of the best trails to run inside the city due to its flat paths and various landmarks.
Uptown is home to many of Charlotte’s most famous parks, landmarks, and stadiums, which makes for a great running route that you can loop as many times as you want. It’s 3.7 miles long, which also makes it perfect for 5k runs.
Since it’s a loop, you can begin your run at the Bank of America Stadium, The Joe Center, Truist Field, Mini Museum Uptown, Fourth Ward Park, or Marshall Park, and simply run from each landmark to the next!
Four Mile Creek Greenway is a, you guessed it, 4-mile trail in southeast Charlotte that runs along Four Mile Creek.
It’s paved and mostly flat, with scenic views and an overall peaceful environment that makes it popular with runners, cyclists, and walkers.
As a result, it’s a great route for flat 5k runs, with plenty of benches and picnic tables along the trail for water breaks.
It’s a laid-back running trail, overall, which can also be ideal when you just want to head out for a slow-paced run!
The Anne Close Springs Greenway has 36 miles of trails to explore, with convenient trail markers as a bonus.
This popular greenway was made for runners, boasting various running trails to choose from depending on the distance you’re after.
The Greenway’s main trail, though, is a 7.2-mile loop that wraps around Lake Haigler, offering stunning views of the lake along the way.
The Piedmont Medical Center Trail is a running trail that runs beside the Catawba River, measuring 2.5 miles in total.
It’s an easy route, and that’s not just because of the short distance, but also because it’s consistently paved and flat.
The trail even connects to other popular trails in the area, including the River Park Trail and Carolina Thread Trail – if you want to go exploring!
Mallard Creek Greenway and Clark’s Creek Greenway both offer a flat running trail set among parklands with picturesque creek views. The two trails actually connect, however, spanning 7.4 miles in total.
So you have three options here: the Mallard Creek Greenway Trail, the Clark’s Creek Greenway Trail, or both if you feel like running 12 kilometers!
The Bottom Line
There you have it: the 15 best running trails in and around Charlotte NC that you need to check out for your next run!
Runners will especially love Charlotte for its numerous greenway trails with creek views, as well as its flat, paved routes looping the city’s best landmarks and parks.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your GPS watch, put your running shoes on, and head out for a run at one of these must-visit trails!