This is the first of our series of video tours of bike rides, with a special focus on Mecklenburg County Greenways. Keep reading to see the video, as well as more information and pictures.
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.
The first greenway we’re spotlighting is Mallard Creek Greenway, but there will be more to come. Please keep checking back!
Mallard Creek Greenway Basics
Overview of Mallard Creek Greenway
Mallard Creek Greenway stretches from the Kirk Farm soccer fields, near UNC Charlotte, to the Brookstone neighborhood. It includes 4.7 miles of trails, 3.5 of which are paved.
It includes a 1.2 mile gravel trail through University Research Park. Almost all of that gravel trail is tightly packed and fairly smooth. It’s fine for walking, jogging, or riding a mountain bike or a hybrid bike. It might be a little rough to ride a road bike in this section.
Mallard Creek Greenway has exits into a number of neighborhoods and apartment complexes, including Harrington Woods Apartments, Greenway Village Apartments and Legacy Park Apartments.
It goes through tunnels under W.T. Harris Boulevard, I-85, North Tryon (US 29) and Mallard Creek Church Road, and also passes under Mallard Creek Road on a bridge.
The only street it actually crosses without a tunnel or bridge is in University Research Park. There’s a crosswalk there, and there’s not usually a lot of traffic.
Here’s a map of Mallard Creek and Clarks Creek Greenways.
Mallard Creek Greenway Connections
Mallard Creek Greenway connects with Clarks Creek Greenway. Together with Clarks Creek Greenway, it’s the longest greenway in Mecklenburg County, at 7.4 miles (including the unpaved section through University Research Park.)
Near Kirk Farm Fields, Mallard Creek Greenway connects with Toby Creek Greenway, for an additional 2.64 miles, through UNC Charlotte. You can easily get to Shoppes at University Place from Toby Creek Greenway, as well as the UNC Charlotte light rail station.
Where to Park for Mallard Creek Greenway
On the east end of Mallard Creek Greenway you can park at Kirk Farm Fields, 210 E Mallard Creek Church Road. Kirk Farm Fields is a 36-acre park with five soccer fields.
You can also park at 9026 Mallard Creek Road, the former location of Countryside Montessori School.
You can also park at Mallard Creek Elementary School, 9801 Mallard Creek Road, when school is not in session, or along Saxonbury Way in the Wellington neighborhood. Both of these parking areas are at entrances to Clarks Creek Greenway, which ends at Mallard Creek Greenway.
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.
Mallard Creek Greenway Tour
Our tour takes you along the complete length of Mallard Creek Greenway, starting at the western end, at Brookstone, and ending at the eastern end, at Kirk Farm Fields.
(We suggest that you go in the reverse direction, and start at Kirk Farm Fields, however, since there is public parking there.)
Enjoy this video of the bike ride, and then scroll down for more pictures and information. The music in this video is by Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, and used with permission.
Starting on the western-most end of Mallard Creek Greenway, you’ll find plenty of nice spots for exploring the creek, like this one.
You’ll ride over several bridges, which provide another vantage point for enjoying the water.
Be on the lookout for wildlife all along the way. Some animals that have been spotted are deer (like the one, below, in University Research Park), Great Blue Herons, Gray Foxes, Red-tailed hawks, beavers and muskrats.
We should also mention snakes. It’s rarely a problem on the trails, but if you do encounter one like this one, remember, Copperheads always have the right of way! If you go off the trail to explore the creek, just watch your step.
If you start from the western point, the first tunnel you’ll go through is under W.T. Harris Boulevard. It does tend to flood, so keep that in mind if it’s recently rained a lot. There are often a lot of butterflies right outside the tunnel (before you enter it, if you’re going in this direction.) The tunnel has an amazing echo, and kids love yelling in it.
Soon after the tunnel you’ll reach a point where you can turn left to go to Clarks Creek Greenway, or turn right to remain on Mallard Creek Greenway. After that you’ll pass the site of the former Countryside Montessori School on the left and then you’ll enter University Research Park, which has a packed gravel and dirt path.
Next you’ll cross David Taylor Drive in University Research Park. This is the only encounter you’ll have with motorized traffic, and you’ll have a crosswalk.
Then you’ll go through a tunnel under I-85. This tunnel is long and very dark. If you have headlights on your bike, this is a good time to use them. You’ll want to keep your speed down in this tunnel because it can be hard to see what’s in front of you.
Your next milestone will be a tunnel under U.S. Highway 29. Warning: around here you might smell burgers from Cookout. If you take the exit on your left, and then turn right you’ll be on U.S. Highway 29, where there is both a bike lane and a sidewalk leading you to Cookout.
Back on the Greenway you’ll go under U.S. 29 and soon you’ll see a sign for Toby Creek Greenway on your right. If you turn there you’ll go through the UNC Charlotte campus.
If, instead, you continue on Mallard Creek Greenway, very soon, you’ll end up at Kirk Farm Fields. There’s a large parking lot here, which is why it could make sense to start your journey on this end instead.Subscribe to Charlotte on the Cheap