If you’re looking for a very easy hike (really, more of a walk than a hike) with a huge payoff, you can’t beat the Buzzard Rock Overlook at Latta Nature Preserve, 6211 Sample Road, Huntersville.
If you haven’t explored Latta Nature Preserve yet, you have a lot to discover. The trails that we are sharing here are just a small part of the trails throughout the 1,460 acres of Latta Nature Preserve. In all, there are 10.81 miles of trails, 6.81 miles of which are hiking and equestrian trails, and 4 miles of which are just for hiking.
Also in Latta Nature Preserve are Quest (the new nature center), the Carolina Raptor Center, where you can meet birds of prey and learn about the center’s work to rehabilitate them, and kayak launch sites.
Latta Nature Preserve is on the shores of Mountain Island Lake, and Mountain Island Lake’s waters offer stunning, peaceful views from the trail, as well as opportunities to fish and to kayak. There are several launch points for kayaks in the nature preserve.
All the nature preserves in Mecklenburg County host frequent events, including hikes, fitness classes, nature classes, art activities and more. You can find a description of the nature preserves and the events they host here.
You can find a map of all the trails at Latta Nature Preserve, as well as descriptions of each, here.
In this article we’ll be describing Buzzard Rock Trail, Laura’s Trail and Catawba Trail.Our library of hikes
Buzzard Rock Overlook
From the Buzzard Rock Overlook parking area, the walk to Buzzard Rock is very easy. The path is wide and well maintained, and mostly flat. It’s suitable for both hikers and horses.
Access for horses ends at this stile, 100 feet from the overlook. So if you arrived here on horseback you’ll need to tie your horse to the hitching post.
Buzzard Rock is a massive formation high above Mountain Island Lake that can be seen from many spots around the lake. A small deck is built on it to provide seating and a spot to take in the panoramic view.
This view is a generous pay off for the easy .3 mile stroll from the parking lot.
We visited on October 18th, 2020, and some leaves were just starting to change. If you go a week or two later, the view should be even more colorful.
Keep reading, because there’s another equally beautiful spot very close by.
Wash Rock Overlook
Also just .3 miles, Laura’s Trail takes you to Wash Rock Overlook, a large cluster of boulders. You’ll see signs that will point you in the right direction, and the trail is wide and mostly flat. Horses are not allowed to enter the trails’ final 500 feet, in order to preserve the vegetation and minimize erosion.
As with Buzzard Rock Overlook, the payoffs at the end of Laura’s Trail are some very large and interesting rocks, including these two that are shaped as a sphere and a pyramid.
There’s not an overlook deck here, but there are multiple spots with great views of the lake.
Many people find the rocks themselves to be a peaceful place to enjoy the views. Wash Rock was named after the rock upon which, legend has it, early settlers washed their garments.
The light in the trees behind Wash Rock is pretty special too.
Extending the Hike
If you want to extend the hike, Catawba Trail connects to Laura’s Trail and Buzzard Rock Trail. It’s 1.25 miles long and passes through hardwood forests and also provides excellent view of Mountain Island Lake.
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