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Address

Office Location:

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

MAP

Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Contact

Chris Matthews
980-314-1019

McDowell Nature Center and Preserve

 
 ​Mon - Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sun 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Campground - (980) 314 - 2267

McDowell Nature Center serves as the gateway to the 1,116 acres of McDowell Nature Preserve and is the source for educational programs and information on the preserve's natural communities, flora, and fauna. The preserve, the oldest in Mecklenburg County,  protects mostly forested, rolling terrain along the banks of Lake Wylie. Download a Map.​

The Nature Center features live, native animals, a discovery hall, and a gift shop. Outside, visitors can stop and observe nature in action at the Ozone Garden or the demonstration compost area, or enjoy a natural play area. Self-interpretive trail guides are available for miles of hiking trails.

A variety of programs are offered, including paddling tours of Lake Wylie and environmental education courses for all ages.

Other facilities located in the preserve include:​
  • McDowell Campground,  offering a total of 56 reservable campsites. Options range from primitive sites to RV pads with full hookups. 
  • Copperhead Island - A 20 acre island with hiking trails, group campings, fishing access and more. Open for public use daily unless reserved for special event. Reserve the entire island or just the main shelter.
Kids Camping at McDowellReturn to Top

 
The preserve offers numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors. Boating enthusiasts can take advantage of the public boat ramps at Copperhead Island or participate in a guided kayaking tour. There are a number of fishing docks for public use. Anglers age 16 and older must have an NC State fishing license.

 
Shaded playgrounds and a variety of picnic areas  can be used on a first come-first-serve basis, while a few larger shelters and the waterfront deck are available for reservation. Public restrooms available at the large shelters, nature center, campground, and waterfront.
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​ McDowell Nature Preserve has over 7 miles of trail offering hikers and nature enthusiasts the opportunity to explore a variety of terrain with scenic views of Lake Wylie, forests, streams, and a piedmont prairie restoration area. Dogs are welcome  but must remain on a 6-foot or shorter leash at all times. Bicycles are restricted to paved roads within the preserve.  Download a Map.
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Flora and Fauna
McDowell Nature Preserve protects habitat for at least 119 species of birds, 21 species of mammals, 21 species of reptiles, and 14 species of amphibians. For a complete list of documented species, download ourvertebrate species checklist.  Among the unusual species that have been found at the Preserve are: Seminole bat first record in NC-, spotted salamander, Gulf Coast spiny soft-shelled turtle, and Loggerhead Shrike. McDowell Nature Preserve is also well known for its diversity of spring ephemeral wild flowers and is among the best areas in Mecklenburg County to view Pileated Woodpeckers. The piedmont prairie restoration area of the preserve provides habitat for a federally endangered plant: Schweinitz's sunflower, a federal candidate species: Georgia aster, and one rare plant: prairie dock.
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Affiliations
McDowell 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, participates in the Groundwater Guardian program, and serves as an ambassador for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Project Feeder Watch.
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Address

Office Location:

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

MAP

Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Contact

Chris Matthews
980-314-1019