McDowell Nature Preserve

Vibe: If you're craving a few ghost story chills with some warm, gooey s'mores, pack your backpack and sleeping bag and drive down to Lake
Wylie, where McDowell Nature Preserve has all the ingredients you'll need for the perfect great outdoors trip. The park has fifty-six campsites to choose from on its rolling, wooded grounds, including seven Rent-a-Tent and thirteen RV sites. Most of the campground's accommodations come with grills, electricity, picnic tables, and a bathhouse (for when nature really calls), so don't think the facility's only for die-hard campers. This 1,115-acre preserve is the oldest in Mecklenburg County, and since its opening in 1976, it's developed something for everyone. You'll find anglers trying to reel in some of Lake Wylie's bass and catfish and hikers taking on the preserve's hilly, rugged trails. While the interactive nature center and playground draw plenty of families to McDowell, don't be surprised to see lounging twenty- and thirty-somethings. Lakeside grass patches are perfect for catching rays, and, if you're looking for a way to cozy up with a special someone, it's the only park in town that allows open bonfires.

Best part: Daydream about having an island all to yourself? Wake up: in addition to its own campground, McDowell borders Copperhead Island, a peninsula that features six Rent-a-Tent sites, picnic shelters, boating access to Lake Wylie, horseshoe pits, and a sand volleyball court. YOu can reserve the shelter for an afternoon barbecue or rent the entire island for a night ($296 for a weekend night, or $236 during the week). Sounds like an island paradise to us.

Amenities: Nature center, campsites (fifty-six), hiking trails (seven miles), picnic areas (three), covered pavilions (two), playground,
fishing piers (four), restrooms (three).

15222 York Rd.; 704-588-5224

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