Saturday, July 18, 2015

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden: Persimmon/Carolina Thread/Worrell Walk Loop (Blog Hike #529)

Trails: Persimmon, Carolina Thread, and Worrell Walk Trails
Hike Location: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Geographic Location: southeast of Gastonia, NC
Length: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: 3/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Last Hiked: July 2015
Overview: A loop around a botanical garden along the shore of Lake Wylie.
Garden Information:

Directions to the trailhead: South of Charlotte, take I-85 to SR 279 (exit 20).  Exit and go south on SR 279.  Drive SR 279 south 10 miles to the signed garden entrance on the right.  Turn right to enter the garden, then follow signs for “Visitors” to the Visitor Pavilion parking area, passing several large ponds along the way.

The hike: For my general comments on Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, see my hike on the garden’s short Persimmon Trail.  This hike features a more substantial route that encircles the developed garden area.  You cannot access the garden from this trail, but you will get some nice Lake Wylie views that cannot be obtained elsewhere on garden property.
Persimmon Trail trailhead
            Like my previous shorter garden hike, this hike begins on the Persimmon Trail, which departs from the parking lot’s northeast corner.  A large and colorful sign marks this trailhead.  The single track dirt Persimmon Trail heads into the woods and descends slightly.  In less than 500 feet, the Persimmon Trail forks to form its loop.  Either option can be used to reach the Carolina Thread Trail, so the choice is yours.  The shortest route turns right, but this trail description turns left to take a slightly longer but more scenic route.
            Just shy of 0.2 miles, you reach a pond located beside the garden entrance road.  When I hiked here on a warm July afternoon, a heron standing beside the pond did not seem to mind my presence.  Some cattails grow in the pond’s shallow waters.
Heron beside pond
            The trail curves right at the pond’s edge to head back into the woods.  After descending slightly, a trail called The Boulevard exits left at another large sign.  The Boulevard is our route to the Carolina Thread Trail, so you need to turn left at this intersection.  Note that turning right would continue the Persimmon Trail to close its 0.5 mile loop.
            The Boulevard heads gradually downhill through a shallow ravine.  Several nice wooden bridges carry you over the creek in this ravine.  At 0.5 miles, you reach the Boulevard’s end at its intersection with the Carolina Thread Trail, which goes left and right.  Turn right to continue our loop as the trail heads through a small sunny meadow.  Turning left at this intersection would lead 1.1 miles to a parking lot that is located on SR 279 0.9 miles south of the garden entrance.
Hiking the Carolina Thread Trail
            The Carolina Thread Trail is actually a trail system.  The system is composed of a large network of non-motorized routes that weave through 15 counties in the Charlotte Metropolitan Area.  The network encompasses counties in both North and South Carolina.  Much of the trail system consists of paved bike paths, but this section is single track dirt trail that is open to hikers and mountain bikes.  The Carolina Thread Trail is still under construction, so check their website for updates.
            What first appears as a wetland area downhill to the left turns into an inlet of Lake Wylie as you get closer to the lake.  A few nice lake views eventually open up to the left, but a housing development on the far shore somewhat mars the view.  The developed garden sits out of sight uphill to the right.  A large number of sweet gum trees live down here, as does some poison ivy.  Some benches built as Eagle Scout projects by Gastonia Boy Scout Troop 6 provide places to rest and enjoy the surroundings.
Lake Wylie
            2 miles into the hike, Worrells Walk exits right at another signed trail intersection.  The hiker-only Worrells Walk is our route back to the garden parking lot, so you need to turn right to begin the final leg of the loop.  Honestly, Worrells Walk is not the most scenic trail: it consists of a 0.5 mile almost imperceptible climb through young pine forest.  Pine needles cover the wide single track trail surface.
            At 2.4 miles, Worrells Walk ends at the paved road to the garden’s growing area.  As directed by another sign, turn left to head for the main garden parking lot.  A brief hot sunny road walk brings you back to the parking lot, thus completing the hike.

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