By Christopher Lawing, Creative Director at Jesse Brown’s Outdoors
Isn’t the outdoors a wonderful place? The air is cleaner, the woods bring serenity, and exploring new places improves not only mental health, but when coupled with an activity such as hiking and camping, physical health as well.
Well, one of the many tried and true hallmarks of Charlotte’s own Jesse Brown’s Outdoors, is in doing just that – outfitting, preparing, and supporting hikers, campers, and the local outdoor enthusiast community. And, the store has been doing this since 1970! In fact, the original sign featured two words: “Backpacking & Mountaineering.” The key to both of those activities? Hiking AND Camping!
Regardless of skill level or destination, the store’s staff goal is to fully prepare you to get outdoors – and enjoy it. So, we stopped in to ask our friends at Jesse Brown’s Outdoors where their favorite places were to hike and camp, and we came away with quite an array of suggestions! Here are 5:
1. South Mountains State Park (1hr. 30mins. drive from Uptown CLT):
One of the staff’s favorite picks! Just south of Morganton, NC, this state park is North Carolina’s largest. With 40+ miles of trail to choose from, ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous, and quite a variety of overnight camping options – from car camping to backpack camping – you can’t go wrong amongst these mountainous foothills. Family favorite trails include the kid-friendly Nature Trail for younger hikers and the High Shoals Fall Trail for more experienced hikers: both of which feature awe-inspiring views of the beautiful 80ft. waterfall (the High Shoals Fall Trail affords stream crossings and an up-close waterfall balcony!) The panoramic views around the park are fantastic, and afterwards, make sure to stop by the nearby Redbone Willy’s or Knob Creek Orchards for some delicious ice cream!
2. Crowders Mountain State Park (35 mins. drive from Uptown CLT):
This state park is another favorite for families, and is in Charlotte’s own backyard! Just west of Gastonia near Kings Mountain, this park offers a variety of activities to choose from. The trail system is certainly one of its crowning jewels with 11 trails to choose from, but its family campsite options are too! These secluded areas sport a grill, picnic table, tent pads, water, and vault toilets. One trail favorite, the Pinnacle Trail, leads to the mountain’s peak and rewards hikers with a fun view of the Queen City’s skyline. For kid-friendly favorites, make sure to check out the Turnback Trail, Fern Trail, and Lake Trail – combined, these make a 2.1 mile round-trip hike, and show off the flora, wildlife, gorgeous scenery.
3. Anne Springs Close Greenway (30 mins. drive from Uptown CLT):
Just over the border in Fort Mill, SC, one will find this gem of a nature preserve. Offering everything from group camping (10 people or more) options and mountain biking, to kayaking and paddle boarding, you are guaranteed to find something of interest within the 2,100 acre preserve. And that’s not to mention the 36 miles of maintained trail system featuring both Nature Trails and Historical Trails! Make sure to check out the Nation Ford Trail to see two 19th century log cabins, views of Steele Creek, and even wagon ruts still in place from the old wagon road. A perfect escape for any season of the year!
4. Morrow Mountain State Park (1hr. 15mins. drive from Uptown CLT):
Located east of Albemarle, NC, this park is located in the Uwharrie Mountains. Who knew there were mountains down east?! Sporting 15 miles of diverse hiking trails, and a plethora of camping options, you can’t go wrong here. The Three Rivers Trail is a short at 0.8 miles in length and offers nice views of the Yadkin, Pee Dee, and Uwharrie Rivers. Bring your RV, tent, or trailer for camping at Morrow Mountain or choose to reserve one of the 6 rustic vacation cabins on site! Families with young historians will enjoy picnicking in one of the shelters built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), as well as learning about the local presence of Native Americans 10,000 years prior to European settlements. Artifacts found on park property are even displayed in the visitor’s center!
5. Chimney Rock State Park (2hr. drive from Uptown CLT):
Most North Carolinians will recognize the 535-million year old monolith that is central to this state park, but did you know that there are also quite the variety of hiking trails beyond the Outcroppings Trail which leads you to the top of ‘the chimney’ via its 494 steps? With sweeping 75 mile panoramic views of the Hickory Nut Gorge, this park is one destination that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. You’ll enter the park from the quaint – yet bustling – Chimney Rock village which is located near Lake Lure, and once there, you’ll discover that the park is home to geological and botanical wonders! While the park doesn’t yet offer overnight camping options, there are many local campgrounds in the Rutherford County area.
Now don’t you want to get outdoors to experience its wonder ASAP? All of these options, right in Charlotte’s backyard, will most certainly keep both the experienced outdoors enthusiasts and younger families alike quite busy in all that North Carolina has to offer! For anyone interested in hitting these trails or campsites, know that you can stop by Jesse Brown’s Outdoors located in the Sharon Corners area of SouthPark to get advice, discuss their plans, pick the brains of the friendly staff, and as always find some necessities and gear to make the experience truly enjoyable. These picks come with the ‘Jesse Brown’s Stamp-Of-Approval!’
About Jesse Brown’s Outdoors:
Jesse Brown’s Outdoors is an outdoor, fly-fishing, and travel outfitter located in the Sharon Corners area of SouthPark in Charlotte, NC. Since 1970, the experienced and knowledgeable staff of the Southeast’s oldest independently run outfitting store, has provided the best in adventure gear to generations of clients. Jesse Brown’s is a flagship store for brands such as Patagonia, Filson, & Barbour, and carries a wide selection of other favorites such as YETI, The North Face, Chaco, Columbia, Simms, Howler Brothers, OluKai, Maui Jim, Costa, and MANY more. Jesse Brown’s Outdoors is also home to Charlotte’s favorite Fly Shop, assisting clients in fly-fishing rod and reel purchases, offering fly casting guided trips and demonstration classes, and by stocking a wide variety of angling flies, accessories, and clothing. Jesse Brown’s is also home to Charlotte’s longest running radio program – the weekly ‘Carolina Outdoors’ WBT Radio Show (1110AM/99.3FM) & Podcast where the ‘Outdoor Guys’ round up stories from across the Carolinas, share outdoor activity ideas, and update listeners on interesting nature-specific happenings from around the nation. So, whether you are simply looking to get across town or campus in comfort and style, or are traveling around the globe or up the Appalachian Trail for a specific adventure, make sure to stop into Jesse Brown’s Outdoors to ensure that you are fully prepared and equipped to truly enjoy your experience.
Jesse Brown’s Outdoors
Sharon Corners at SouthPark
4732 Sharon Road, Suite 2M | Charlotte, NC
Store Hours: Mon-Sat 10a-6p, Sunday 12n-5p