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At a Glance

The largest public park in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, the McDowell Nature Preserve spans hundreds of acres along Lake Wylie’s eastern shore line in North Carolina.  The entire preserve encompasses a nature center, hiking trails, onsite camping and public boating access at nearby Copperhead Island as well as an enormous, largely untouched piedmont prairie restoration and bird sanctuary.

The McDowell Nature Center offers tons of activities through the year encouraging folks to explore the great outdoors.  It is the site of many school field trips as well as summer camps and yearly events for the entire family.  Although McDowell once charged a small admission for non-Mecklenburg County residents, the preserve is now FREE for all to enjoy.

Originally the location of Camp Steere, a Boy Scout camp, the park was first opened in June of 1976.  The park was named for John McDowell, a prominent Commissioner and Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commission from 1966 – 1974.  Over the years additional parcels and acreage were added bringing the entire preserve to it’s present size of over 1,100 acres.



Over 1,100 + acres


  • Nature center featuring live, native animals
  • 7+ miles of hiking/walking trails
  • Shaded playground, large shelters and numerous picnic benches
  • Onsite Tent and RV camping
  • Fishing docks
  • Public boat ramp and lake access at Copperhead Island


Located on Hwy 49 South and Shopton Rd West. Entrance on Hwy 49 South before the Buster Boyd Bridge.  Address: 15222 York Rd, Charlotte NC 28278 | Tele# 980-314-1128 | McDowell Preserve Website

City/Zip Code: Charlotte NC, 28278

Around the Park

Oh my, so much to do and see!  Take in the Nature Center, playground or miles of hiking/walking trails.  Visit Copperhead Island and cast a fishing rod off the docks or drop your boat in at Lake Wylie’s only public access in Mecklenburg County.  Bird watchers will love the untouched sanctuary.

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