McDowell Nature Preserve
There are nearly seven miles of hiking trails here, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get lost in them. Start on a path that hugs the shoreline of Lake Wylie, then turn right into the woods. There’s the sharp and holy scent of Eastern Red Cedars. There’s the murmur of the creek as sunlight filters through the high branches of oak and pine. Back here, far from the lake and hidden from the main road, the trees envelop you. Not many weekend hikers venture out to the Cedar Ridge Trail, the steepest path in the park. But if you find it, you’ll be rewarded with a view that silences the chatter in your mind. A glimpse of the forest floor, with its depth and shadow, reminds you why you venture out here in the first place.