Outdoors enthusiasts from across the Charlotte region are the target market of a 606-acre nature park underway on the northern tip of Lake Norman.
Mountain Creek Park in Sherrills Ford will feature 19 miles of hiking and mountain bike trails when it opens next summer or early fall, along with kayaking and paddleboarding, picnic areas and a fishing pier.
The $8.5 million Catawba County park, on Little Mountain Road off N.C. 150, also will include dog parks, playgrounds, pickleball courts and a park office-educational center. The park is 40 miles from uptown Charlotte.
For more than a decade, Catawba County officials have envisioned the public park as a regional draw offering the types of outdoor recreation found in North Carolina state parks, Jacky Eubanks, Catawba County planning and parks director, told The Charlotte Observer.
That means no ball fields, he said, which conservation easement on the property prohibits.
Such “heavy land disturbing recreational activities” also “would do irreparable damage to the significant habitat areas and forests” on the acreage, county officials said on the website of the park on CatawbaCountyNC.gov.
The park is in an area of the county considered “the northern bedroom community of Charlotte,” Eubanks said. “Growth has been going on in that (southeastern) section of Catawba County for at least two decades.”
MOUNTAIN BIKING IS PARK’S HIGHLIGHT
Mountain biking “is at the heart” of the park, county officials said on the park’s website on CatawbaCountyNC.gov.
Elevated Trail Design LLC of Weaverville started trail work in February, and 13 miles have been completed.
The firm has designed and built “millions of dollars” worth of trails across the U.S. in its 10 years, owner Peter Mills said Thursday.
Much of the trail network will also accommodate hikers, runners and bird watchers, officials said. Seven smaller segments will be for mountain biking only, Mills said. A 1.2-acre mountain bike park will include a pump track and kids’ track.
Cornelius-based J.D. Goodrum is the general contractor on the overall park construction.
The park is the county’s fourth, and its second-largest after 690-acre Riverbend Park in Conover. By comparison, Mecklenburg County’s Jetton Park on Lake Norman in Cornelius totals 104 acres and its McDowell Nature Center and Preserve on Lake Wylie encompasses about 1,100 acres.
Mills said he started his company near Asheville out of a love of the outdoors. The trails his four-person crew are building at Mountain Creek Park each day are for everyone, no matter their skill, he said.
He said he’s glad so much land has been preserved in one of the fastest growing areas of the country, and for everyone to use and enjoy.