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Address

Office Location:

Mecklenburg County
Park and Recreation
5841 Brookshire Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28216

MAP

Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m
Sun 1 p.m. - 5 p.m

Contact

Nature Centers
980-314-1000

​​​​​Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve

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Latta Plantation Nature Center​ serves as the gateway to the 1,460 acres of Latta Plantation Nature Preserve and is the source for educational programs and information on the preserve's natural communities, flora, and fauna. The preserve, Mecklenburg County's largest, forms a green peninsula extending into Mountain Island Lake and protects a natural heritage site and several endangered plants.​ Download a Map​.

The Nature Center features live, native animals, a discovery hall, an outdoor amphitheater, and a gift shop. Outside, visitors can stop and observe nature in action at the National Wildlife Federation certified Backyard Habitat Garden which includes bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, garden pond, and demonstration compost area. Self-interpretive trail guides are available for several nature preserve trails.
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A variety of programs are offered, including paddling and Segway tours of the preserve and environmental education courses for all ages.

Other facilities located in the preserve include:

  • Carolina Raptor Center, an education and rehabilitation facility dedicated to the conservation of birds of prey and home to the Southeast's largest eagle aviary
  • Historic Latta Plantation, a restored 19th century federal-style home and living history farm of James Latta, open to public tours and interpretive programs.

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Latta Plantation Nature Preserve offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Paddling enthusiasts will find two launch areas that provide access to Gar Creek and Mountain Island Lake, including an ADA accessible ramp. Numerous fishing opportunities are available, including a fishing dock. Anglers ages 16 and older must have a NC State Fishing License.

A variety of picnic areas can be used on a first-come-first-served basis, while the larger shelters are available by reservation (Call 704-875-1391). Restrooms are available as well as a sand volleyball court.
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Latta Plantation Nature Preserve has 16 miles of trails offering hikers, nature enthusiasts, and horseback riders the opportunity to explore a variety of terrain while enjoying scenic views of the lake, forests, and streams. It is the only Mecklenburg County property open to horseback riding. Thirteen (13) miles are designated as horseback and hiking trails and three (3) miles are designated as hiking only. Due to the delicate nature of sharing trails with horses, mountain bikes are permitted only on paved roads within the preserve. Download a Map​.

Visitors bringing their own horses can park their trailer in a designated horse trailer parking lot and base out of that location to explore the entire preserve. Proof of 12-month negative Coggins should be available for inspection. ​Dogs are welcome on preserve trails, but must remain on a 6-foot or shorter leash at all times. All trails are marked with color symbols.
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The Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department first opened the 654 acre Latta Plantation Park Nature Preserve in 1981. After the creation of the Nature Preserve Master Plan in 1997, the name was officially changed to Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. In the 1800's, most of the area was a cotton plantation owned by Mr. James Latta, a traveling merchant who first purchased the land in 1799. A portion of the acreage was used as a Boy Scout camp in the 1940's. Military exercises have also been conducted on the property. The property was purchased from several different owners including Crescent Resources and The Nature Conservancy. H. R. Johnson Construction once owned the majority of the property. Crescent Resources harvested timber in some areas of what is now preserve property. The 2,810 square foot Latta Plantation Nature Center was first opened in 1982 as the Ranger Interpretive Center. The Center's name changed to Latta Plantation Nature Center in 1998 and the facility underwent its first major renovation in 2002.

Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is the County's largest nature preserve and protects over 1,460 acres of natural communities including the Beatties Ford Basic Forest natural heritage site. The preserve forms a green peninsula extending into Mountain Island Lake, the drinking water source for over 700,000 residents in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties. Its diversity of natural communities includes upland and bottom land hardwood forests, open fields, streams, and a Piedmont Prairie restoration site protecting the federally endangered Schweinitz's sunflower and Michaux's sumac. The Preserve is part of the Mountain Island Lake Important Bird Area, designated by the National Audubon Society due to its diversity of wintering waterfowl, breeding and migratory songbird species, and protection of bottom land hardwood forests, a threatened natural community in North Carolina.
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Latta Plantation Nature Preserve also preserves habitat for 97 species of birds, 17 species of mammals, 14 species of reptiles, and 9 species of amphibians. Among the species that have been found at the Preserve are: Bald Eagle, Wild Turkey,red fox, gray fox, mink, and red-spotted newt. The Preserve also protects two federally endangered plants (Schweinitz's sunflower and Michaux's sumac), a federal candidate species (Georgia's aster), and the largest population of puttyroot orchid in Mecklenburg County. For a complete list of documented species, download our vertebrate species checklist.
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Latta Plantation Nature Center is a proud member of the North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers and supports Environmental Educator's of North Carolina. The Nature Center is recognized as a WNCW Oasis and accepts the Oasis member discount card for gift shop purchases. The Nature Center is also a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Water Quality Coalition, is a certified National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat, and serves as an ambassador for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Project FeederWatch.
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Address

Office Location:

Mecklenburg County
Park and Recreation
5841 Brookshire Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28216

MAP

Hours: Mon-Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m
Sun 1 p.m. - 5 p.m

Contact

Nature Centers
980-314-1000