Shady Hollow to Pine Hollow Trail Hike Review
Park: McDowell Nature Preserve | Charlotte, NC
Difficulty level: Easy / Moderate; inclines
Parking: Free parking lot inside the park
Trail Type: Loop
Trail Markings: Yellow
2.9 mile loop; 1 hour and 15 mins to complete; 412 elevation gain; 289 total calories burned
Weather = Hot and sunny 92 degrees
Time = 11:30AM
Day of Week = Saturday
Shady Hollow to Pine Hollow Trail is a great trail if you are looking for an easy going hike with moderate inclines and great views around Lake Wylie in North Carolina.
Located in Mecklenburg County, a southwestern county just 25 minutes south of Charlotte, the start of the trail is inside of McDowell Nature Preserve. The preserve is one of Charlotte’s 383 parks and is the county’s largest and oldest. The McDowell Nature Center provides educational programs and resources and features live native animals - such as snakes, turtles, frogs, a discovery hall, and a gift shop.
The trail starts beside the nature center and takes you through to Lake Wylie and back around. Because of its proximity to the nature center, expect to see many families and children at the beginning of the trail, but as you get deeper into the park there are less families and small children around.
Pine Hollow Trail is well maintained and really shady with a canopy of various tree types and a small stream crossing. Most of the terrain was flat and clearly marked with the “yellow trail” marking.
One cool thing about this trail is that once you make it to Lake Wylie, you are looking at South Carolina on the other side! Lake Wylie is primarily situated in South Carolina and covers an area of approximately 13,400 acres and has a shoreline of about 325 miles.
While we visited this trail on a Saturday morning, the level of crowding at the McDowell Nature Preserve varies depending on the season, weather, and specific events and activities taking place. We went in mid-July at 11AM - there were small families at the beginning of the trail but very few people deeper into the park. Generally, weekends tend to be busier but the preserve is big enough and has numerous trails to help disperse visitors - making it less crowded compared to smaller or more popular parks
The trail took us an hour and 15 minutes to complete with a total elevation gain of 412 ft. An easy hike typically sees around 0 - 300 change in elevation; which is why we rate this trail easy to moderate. Needless to say, you will get a workout in! To help take our minds off the inclines, we listened to "Cove Trail Audio Tour." The preserve has audio tour towers stationed about a mile in that provides information about local plants, animals, history, etc.
"Cove Trail - Local Plants" talks about North Carolina's thimble weed plant, northern maiden hair fern, and dwarf crescent iris.