Charlotte’s Whitewater Center is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Located only 10 miles West of Uptown, the WWC feels worlds apart. The non-profit organization officially opened its doors to the public on November 4, 2006. However, according to the Tarheel Trailblazers, many people have been exploring the trails long before this official opening date. In fact, some of the original trails were built where the current river channels are located today.
Within the official boundaries of the WWC, are activities for the whole family. On any given day, you have your choice of rafting, kayaking, or paddle boarding. On land, there are areas designated for rock climbing, hiking, biking, and zip lining that cater to thrill seekers of all ages. All of the activities are suitable for most patrons and the staff makes sure that you know what to expect from each activity. When you are looking to relax after a long day of exploring, there is also a restaurant, bar, gift shop, and concert venue.
In the woods surrounding the main entrance there are rope courses, canopy tours, and over 30 miles of trails spread out over 1300 acres. What began as two trails that are simply called “North Main” and “South Main”, the system has expanded to include four distinct loops and as well as numerous trail spurs. Following the development of these two trails, the Lake Loop was constructed. It is a beginner trail that is 3.2 miles and is suitable for first timers. The most recently constructed of the four loop system is “East Main”. This trail would be considered of moderate difficulty due to the elevation gain and quick switchback turns. Within these four loops there is a variety of terrain, soil, and technical features.
Lately the Whitewater staff and Tarheel Trailblazers have been building trails at a frenzied pace. Within the past year, the Carolina Thread Trail has been extended. Along with this extension, the Academy and Parkway trails have been established. Academy is of moderate difficulty and adds about three miles to the overall mileage. Parkway Trail is probably the most family friendly of all the trails and is just about 7 miles in length. Running parallel to the entrance to the park, the trail is at least 3 feet wide throughout and doesn’t have much elevation change.
With 30 plus miles of trails, the WWC has grown from a local day trip spot to a national destination in a relatively short period of time. Although the Whitewater Center is geared toward athletes, there is truly something for everyone in your family. Check out their concerts, expos, and racing events that take place all year round. The WWC is open 365 days a year. Parking passes are $5 for the day and $40 for a yearly pass. Annual full access activity passes are available and there are also individual daily passes available for purchase. For more information visit www.usnwc.org
During the winter months, most of the local trails are closed for extended periods of time due to wet conditions. The George Poston Trail at Spencer Mountain is one exception to this rule. Due to its rocky terrain, the trail drains well and never closes due to wet conditions. Located in Gastonia, George Poston Park is home to one of the oldest trails in the Charlotte metro area. The seven miles of trails would be considered intermediate or difficult for most. Although the first two miles are pretty tame, the Poston Trail gets progressively harder as you approach the Spencer Mountain Loop. Throughout the trail, you encounter everything from rolling smooth sections to rocky, rooty uphill sections. It is the kind of trail that you might find yourself hiking on the more difficult areas. As you wind your way up Spencer Mountain, you are rewarded with a full view of the Charlotte skyline at the half way point. As you start back down Spencer Mountain, there are a number of extended fast, open downhill sections. The Poston Trail may be a little bit on the tougher side, but the rewarding views make it worth the effort.
The Poston Trails are one of the less traveled trails in the area and it is located only fifteen minutes from the Whitewater Center. So when the WWC’s trails are closed, we recommend that you mix it up and check out the George Poston Trail. A job well done by the city Gastonia on this gem. Within the past year they have extended the parking lot and improved the trail markers.