This is the third of our series of video tours of bike rides, with a special focus on Mecklenburg County Greenways. Keep reading to see a video, as well as more information and an extensive photo guide.
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The Mecklenburg County greenway system is a set of linear parks, generally alongside creeks, that connect neighborhoods, shopping areas and other destinations. Many of the greenways connect to each other.
There are currently 49 miles of developed greenway trails in Mecklenburg County, with more being built.
The greenways are suitable for walking, jogging, biking, or riding non-motorized scooters. They are great for pushing strollers.
Besides enhancing our quality of life by providing a place to exercise and much-needed shade, the greenways also help to promote water quality, reduce flooding damage, and preserve wildlife habitats.
Today we’re highlighting two sections of Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The whole Little Sugar Creek Greenway, includes several sections, not all of which are connected:
- Cordelia Park to 12th Street (.95 miles)
- East 7th Street to Morehead Street (1.29 miles)
- Morehead Street to Brandywine Road (2.88 miles)
- Tyvola Road to Huntingtowne Farms Park (2.37 miles)
- Huntingtowne Farms Park to I-485 (2.39 miles)
Our video tour and photo guide include the 2nd and 3rd sections, going from East 7th Street to Brandywine Road. To travel these two sections of the Greenway you don’t have to cross any major roads. You do have to cross a few streets, and they’re marked with green crosswalks.
The section we are covering is 4.17 miles long, and has many points of interest along the way.
Little Sugar Creek Greenway Basics
Overview of Little Sugar Creek Greenway (sections 2 and 3)
Section two of Little Sugar Creek Greenway starts at East 7th Street, but is not connected to section one (from Cordelia Park to 12th Street.) It connects CPCC, Elizabeth Park, Thompson Park, the Metropolitan and plenty of retail and dining.
Another highlight of this section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway is the Trail of History, which features eight statues of men and women who played significant roles in the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
Along the way there are lots of plazas, fountains and green areas, as well as access to Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center.
Section two of Little Sugar Creek Greenway connects seamlessly to section three, through a tunnel under Morehead Street. It leads to Freedom Park, including Discovery Place Nature, and then past Park Road Elementary School. At the end of this section, you can get to Park Road Shopping Center.
Where to Park for Little Sugar Creek Greenway (section 2 and 3)
There are plenty of places to park for your walk or bike ride, and they’re all free.
Elizabeth Park, 101 N Kings Drive, is near the 7th Street end of the second section of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway (7th Street to Morehead Street.) You can park there, and then head to the beginning and start there, if you want to see the whole thing.
You can also park at the Metropolitan, 1116 Metropolitan Avenue, where there’s a parking garage.
On the other end of our journey, in section three, you can park at Freedom Park, at 1910 Freedom Park Service Road, or 1656 Sterling Road (at Discovery Place Nature.)
Mecklenburg County Park’s website also lists these locations for parking:
- 1421 E Morehead Street
- North side of Westfield Road between Tranquil Avenue and Brandywine Road (street parking)
Greenway Etiquette and Safety
- Pedestrians have the right of way.
- Keep to the right except when passing.
- Pass on the left.
- Give an audible warning to others when passing. (Using a bell or calling out “on your left!”)
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep volume down on audio devices so that you’ll hear approaching traffic.
- Walk with others.
- Avoid walking more than two abreast.
- Cyclists should always ride single file and at a safe speed.
- Use bicycle lights, reflectors and reflective clothing if it’s getting dark (or if you’re going through a tunnel)
- If you’re walking a dog, keep them on a 6-foot or shorter leash, and stay on the right edge of the trail. Clean up after your dog.
- Avoid standing still on the trail.
- Cross carefully.
- Teach your children trail etiquette too.
Little Sugar Creek Greenway Tour (sections 2 and 3)
Our tour takes you along the complete length of sections two and three of Little Sugar Creek Greenway, starting at 7th Street and ending at Brandywine Road.
GoPro Video Bike Tour of Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Enjoy this video of the bike ride, below,, and then scroll down for a photo guide. The music in this video is by AKITA, a Charlotte-based funk band. The music is used with permission. The GoPro footage is provided by Stan Mace.
Photo Guide of Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Section two of Little Sugar Creek Greenway begins at 7th Street, and runs along Kings Drive. It’s called the Urban Section. If you park at Elizabeth Park, you’re pretty close to the beginning of this section.
This section is named for Dr. Tony Zeiss, long time president of Central Piedmont Community College.
One of the first points of interest are the Trail of History statues of Thomas Spratt, an early settler, and King Haigler, the most prominent chief of the Catawbas. Read about them here.
These statues will be on your left, but also look to the right to see Thomas Spratt’s hat.
You’ll pass plenty of plazas along the way, with seating areas, like this one. Many are directly next to the Greenway.
You’ll need to cross a couple of streets along the way, but they’re all safe, with bright green crosswalks and traffic lights.
You’ll soon come to a ramp that leads up to Elizabeth Park and the Captain Jack Plaza, as well as to CPCC.
There are actually two ramps to get up here, and if you miss the first one, you’ll a sign.
Once you’re up there, you can take a break on the swinging benches.
And then take a look at the statue of Captain Jack, on horseback, in a fountain. This statue is part of the Trail of History. Captain James Jack delivered the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Read more about Captain Jack here.
Then head back down the ramp to the Greenway.
Back on the Greenway, some tunnels will allow you to avoid crossing roads. Some of the tunnels are pretty picturesque.
Soon you’ll arrive at a plaza with the next Trail of History statues, commemorating Thompson Orphanage and Training Institute, and the children who lived there. Learn more about the Thompson Orphanage here.
Next you’ll get to Target and the Metropolitan. The Metropolitan has a parking garage and lots of retail and dining, including Best Buy, Dressler’s Trader Joe’s Zoë’s Kitchen, Waterbean Coffee, and many more. The Metropolitan also hosts frequent events, like outdoor music and fitness classes.
You won’t be able to miss the colorful steps.
The next Trail of History statue you’ll see is Philip Lance Van Every, the businessman and civic leader, and president and CEO of Lance Packing Company, his family’s business. If you’ve ever eaten Lance Crackers, you’ve tasted a part of Charlotte’s history. Read more about Philip Lance Van Every.
The next Trail of History statue is that of William Henry Belk, who led the Charlotte-based Belk stores to prominence. Read more about William Belk.
Next up is Thaddeus Lincoln Tate, a prominent African American businessman and civic leader in the early to mid-twentieth century. He helped found Grace A.M.E. Zion Church, and used his friendships with local white leaders to press for improvements to services for African Americans. He helped found the Brevard Street branch of the public library, the first free branch of a public library for African Americans in the south. Read more about Thaddeus Lincoln Tate.
This is the last of the Trail of History statues that we have included on this photo tour, but make sure to check them all out, including Jane Renwick Smedberg Wilkes, who helped to establish Charlotte hospitals, and James B. Duke, industrialist and philanthropist.
Eventually the Trail of History will include 21 statues. The next two planned are attorney and civil rights leader Julius Chambers, and Dr. Annie Alexander, the first female physician in the southern states.
Soon, you’ll seen a sign for Midtown Park.
Take the steps on your left to the park. You’ll see a reflective orb. It’s called Sight Unseen. This work was commissioned by the Arts and Science Council and was installed in 2012. Of this work, the Arts and Science Council says:
Normally, visual art is by definition not accessible to the sightimpaired. For this project, the artists began by envisioning through the ears and hands of a sight-impaired person. Noticing the similarity between the embossed dots of Braille signage and those embossed on a music box cylinder, they created a union of these two seemingly unrelated items in their artwork. The works feature a modified music box which plays Braille letters placed on a music staff to create notes. When the music box within the art is moved, visitors experience a unique music. The artworks are subtle and deliberately obscure structures, offering no clues to their function. They are designed to trigger the curiosity of the community. The artworks play poems the artists wrote about the greenway.
You can also get a look at the Charlotte skyline from this vantage point.
As you continue, make sure to enjoy the scenic beauty of the creek and its surroundings.
You’ll encounter a couple nice fountains.
Then you’ll go through a tunnel under Morehead Street.
When you emerge from the tunnel on the other side of Morehead Street you’ll be on the third section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway. This part is called the Liz Hair Nature Walk, named for Liz Hiar, the first woman to be elected to and to chair the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, and a staunch advocate for parks and greenways.
This section of the trail becomes less urban, and runs directly next to the creek, providing plenty of contact with nature. The path is narrow, though, so make sure to be aware of others.
Make sure to pay attention to the little things too!
Soon you’ll be at Freedom Park, one of the most popular parks in Charlotte. On its 98 acres you’ll find baseball fields, tennis courts, soccer fields, a basketball court, a 7-acre lake, a bandshell, 2 playgrounds, NFL Play 60 KidZone and more. Freedom Park is home to many concerts and festivals.
From here, you’ll pass by Park Road Elementary School, eventually ending at Brandywine Road.