We’ve been exploring many hiking trails in the Charlotte area and beyond. Read about 50+ hikes and walks in the Charlotte area.
Cabarrus County is home to one of the most interesting hiking trails in the area, Buffalo Creek Preserve Trail, which goes through Buffalo Creek Preserve, land owned by Catawba Lands Conservancy.
Buffalo Creek Preserve Trail is part of Carolina Thread Trail, a network of trails in 15 counties in North and South Carolina.
The trailhead is near 7911 Malibu Road, Mt. Pleasant. It’s about 40 minutes from the center of Charlotte, and very convenient to those in Harrisburg, Concord, and Kannapolis. There are about 10 parking spaces in the parking lot at the trailhead. There are no restroom facilities.
What’s unusual about this hike is the diversity of the terrain. You’ll walk through a restored oak savanna, along the fields of a working farm and through a young forest along a bluff high above a creek. You’ll cross the creek on a swinging bridge.
There are spots along the creek where you can enjoy a small sand “beach” and even dip your toes in the water.
Buffalo Creek Preserve Trail is an out and back, natural surface trail, 2.1 miles each way.
During our visit in January of 2021, portions of the trail close to the trailhead were extremely muddy. Use caution, and, if you have hiking boots, wear them. We just wore athletic shoes and it was a little slippery in spots.
You can skip most of the muddy areas by walking down Malibu Road after you park (turn left on Malibu Road.) Walk to the end of the road, and enter the preserve from the road. You’ll miss some of the savanna scenery, but might save yourself from a fall. Carolina Thread Trail’s page about this trail says that the mud is due to a utility repair on the property, so maybe it will be resolved soon.
It’s not hard to follow the trail. There aren’t really many choices to make since there’s just the one trail. Any time you might have a question, there’s a Carolina Thread Trail sign to point you the right way. The AllTrails app is very helpful too.
Read on for more information and for some pictures from our hike!Our library of hikes
Make sure to take a look at the sign at the trailhead. The trails aren’t complicated at all, but the sign has some interesting information about the preserve. One of the most unusual feature of the preserve is the Piedmont oak savanna.
A savanna is a mixed woodland and grassy area where the trees are widely spaced from each other. Savannas are not typical in the Piedmont, but they used to be common, and provide a habitat for many bird species. Catawba Lands Conservancy is working to restore the Piedmont oak savanna at the trailhead.
After the savanna you’ll walk along the fields of a local farm that’s growing hay and grains.
Then the terrain changes again as you enter a young forest.
The trail goes along a bluff above Adams Creek, a tributary of Dutch Buffalo Creek, providing endless stunning views of the water.
After a slight decline, you’ll cross over Adams Creek on a swinging bridge. The bridge is very secure, but it moves quite a bit, especially if you’re walking with someone trying to bounce on it!
The views of Adams Creek from the bridge, in both directions, are dramatic and beautiful.
After you cross the bridge, the path changes again. Now it’s sand.
The views of the field on the right are stunning, and then you enter another forest — this one mostly evergreen.
Finally, you reach the end of the trail and it’s time to turn around. But there might be a surprise on the way back, so keep reading!
On the way back, before you get to the bridge, make sure to look to your right. There’s a path down to the water that you might have missed when the water was on your left, due to the angle of the opening. Turn here!
And you’ll be rewarded with these views! This is a nice place to relax for a while before heading back across the bridge and back to the trailhead.
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