I love hikes of all kinds, but I really love hikes where you come across the ruins of some abandoned structure. It’s a reminder that the lands we enjoy have their own stories. These old structures can spark an interest in local history and fodder for the imagination. That’s why I love the Robinson Rock House hike at Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, and also this hike in Elkin, where we encountered the ruins of an old power plant.
I was hunting around for an easy hike this morning (really, more of a “walk” than a hike.) It’s rained a lot, so I was looking for a paved trail, if possible. That drew me to the Mecklenburg County Greenways, and, in particular to Campbell Creek Greenway, where you can see the ruins of an old gristmill.
Read on for everything you need to know about this walk, as well as lots of pictures, to give you an idea of what it’s like. We also are sharing a video, which is notable for the very loud croaking of frogs, a sign of a healthy environment.Our library of hikes
Video of grist mill and creek
Campbell Creek and McAlpine Creek Greenways run along 4.76 miles of the two creeks, from Lockmont Drive (near Idlewild Elementary School) past Independence Boulevard, through McAlpine Creek Park, ending at Sardis Road.
There are three parking lots with access to McAlpine Creek Greenway, and one where McAlpine Greenway and Campbell Creek Greenway meet. We parked at that one, at 2116 Margaret Wallace Road, because we just wanted to take a short walk and see the gristmill. There’s room for approximately 25 cars.
To walk on Campbell Creek Greenway, which is paved, turn right out of the parking lot. When you get to the sidewalk, turn left, and then cross Margaret Wallace Road at the crosswalk.
From this point you’ll be walking along Campbell Creek, and it’s just .38 miles from the parking lot to the gristmill.
Dr. Charles Lucas and his family moved from New York to Charlotte in the 1930s and bought a property that backed up to Campbell Creek. He had a gristmill built, which used the flowing water of the creek to grind corn and grains.
The gristmill is on the other side of the creek, but you can clearly see the stone foundation and tall wall. There’s a sign that shows how the gristmill would have worked.
Interestingly, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark Commission, it’s believed that Dr. Lucas used the workings of an older gristmill in Northern Mecklenburg County, Long Creek Mill (later known as Whitley’s Mill), which was built around 1820 in and ceased operation in 1919.
Continuing on Campbell Creek Greenway, you’ll encounter a dam, and several bridges that take you across the creek and back.
There are sections of the creek that are narrow and fast-moving, and sections that are wide and placid.
On the bank of a particularly peaceful part of the creek, there’s a bench made from a board wedged between two trees. (Thank you to whoever did that!
Don’t worry — it’s sturdy. Take a break here and appreciate the quiet.
After you reach the end of Campbell Creek Greenway (or however far you want to walk) and head back to the parking lot, you can, instead, continue onto McAlpine Creek Greenway. It’s equally as beautiful, takes you across an impressively large large bridge, and through the 114-acre McAlpine Creek Park, where you’ll find a cross country course, a 1.5-mile nature trail, a 3-acre lake with a fishing pier, and dog parks.Subscribe to Charlotte on the Cheap