Looking for a decent hike just outside of Charlotte? Head to Crowders Mountain State Park. Crowders Mountain is in Gaston County, a short 40 minute drive from Charlotte. You can choose between a ton of different trails, ranging from strenuous to rolling hills. Summit the mountain at Pinnacle Peak and on a clear day you can see all the way to Charlotte.
From the main parking lot you can do a 5-6 mile loop hike hitting both peaks (Pinnacle and Crowders). At the main lot there’s easy parking, bathrooms, water fountains, vending machines and a help desk where you can grab a map. The trails are well marked. Pets are allowed, and many people bring their children. All ages welcome!
On the weekends be ready for a packed house with the main parking lot sometimes being backed up. Take this hint from a local: go to the “Boulders” lot instead. You’re going to have a serious hike if you want to do Pinnacle from Boulders (like 12 miles), but you can climb on some rocks, go all the way to South Carolina, and generally have a very decent hike (without the views of Charlotte).
Park at Boulders lot – you won’t have to sit in your car waiting for a spot to open up.