A well-heeled suburb of Charlotte, the unincorporated community of Lake Wylie sits on the Catawba River, and Lake Wylie itself just over the South Carolina border. Growing fast, this area is pawpular with both commuters and retirees seeking lakefront property. Lake Wylie pups have plenty of luxuries: the town’s median family income is almost $40,000 higher than the state average.
With all these advantages, it’s heartwarming that there are also two animal rescues and a pet adoption agency in town. Total Bond Vet Hospital (with generous evening hours) is located right in Lake Wylie, too. There are also two pet supply stores here, including the locally-owned Bright Eyes and Bushy Tails, and dog-friendly outdoor seating at both the Bagel Boat and Christopher’s Grill and Bar.
Without an incorporated local government, Lake Wylie doesn’t maintain local parks. However, the lake itself is an outdoor play-day waiting to happen. York County’s 26-acre Ebenezer Park is located about 14 miles south near India Hook in Rock Hill. Your water dogs can splash, canoe, or help you catch fish from the Allison Creek Access Point’s pier and boat ramp just 8 miles from the Lake Wylie community. If you decide to take your dog for a float or paddle on the lake, stop by Goat Island, where Allison Creek meets Lake Wylie. You won’t see any goats, but you can let it all hang out with your furbabies on the beach at your own private island if no other boaters arrive.
The 1,100-acre McDowell Nature Preserve is directly across the lake from Lake Wylie in the Steele Creek neighborhood of Charlotte, easily reachable by the bridge on York Road. The preserve offers more than 7 miles of hiking trails, all of which welcome on-leash dogs. There are 12 trails to pick from, including the gentle and wheelchair-accessible Four Seasons Trail that connects to the more rugged Creekside Trail and Cedar Ridge Trail for a 2-mile loop. You can download a full trail map from the preserve’s website. The 20-acre Copperhead Island within the preserve gives a particularly remote hiking experience. And if you just. can’t. even. with the Charlotte crowds, you can reserve the whole island (for a fee, of course) and throw a private puppy party.
Westminster Park in the India Hook area of Rock Hill is 16 miles from Lake Wiley, and sprawls over 320 acres along the Catawba River. All are welcome — including your on-leash furry friends — at this private park operated by Westminster Presbyterian Church. With athletic fields and play areas, there’s always a lot going on, but it’s the 8 miles of hiking trails that will have your buddy begging for more. The trail network to the north of the parking area leads to a peaceful meditation spot on the water. The trails to the south explore the kayak launch and soccer fields. Bring waste bags and water for your adventure, and unless your pup has a great nose for direction, download the trail map from their website ahead of time: regulars say the trails aren’t all well-marked.
Tega Cay, SC, is a ritzy planned community less than 10 miles from the Lake Wylie community and has its own fair share of lakefront property. Central Bark is the town’s destination for dogs in the know. The comfy benches mean you can lounge in the shade while your pups work off their kibble in the well-maintained fenced play area. A very small annual fee applies, and dogs must provide proof of registration and vaccination. If you’ve all been very good boys, drive a few miles inland to Tega Cay’s 521 BBQ on Stonecrest Blvd, where the friendly staff will serve your pups water and even bones while you enjoy a meaty meal on the patio.
The Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill is 11 miles from Lake Wylie, and with 40 miles of trails to explore on-leash and an outstanding dog park for frolicking off-leash, the ASCG is worth not only the short drive but also the reasonable membership fee. The Mary Warner Mack Dog Park is located by the Greenway’s Adventure Road entrance. It has a separate monthly membership fee, but with 12 acres of freedom and new friends for your fur family, you’ll be glad you joined. Not only are there fenced play runs for small and large dogs, but the park also features a mile-long off-leash trail leading to lakefront splashing access. There's a self-service dog wash station if he gets too muddy. With your bestie back on-leash, sniff out the ASCG’s other trails ranging in length from the 0.3-mile Avery Loop to the 7.2-mile Blue Star Trail.
Crowder Mountain State Park in Kings Mountain, North Carolina is just 18 miles from Lake Wylie. This rocky, rugged landscape is a dog-friendly adventure waiting to happen. There are 11 hiking trails to choose from, and the easy 0.8-mile Fern Trail roundtrip is a good starting point. If your pack still has some energy left, Fern connects to the Turnback and Lake Trails for a 2-mile loop. If your pups have long legs and plenty of water, consider the 2-mile hike to the summit of King’s Pinnacle. Need more park? South Carolina’s Kings Mountain State Park is only a few miles south, and you and your canine companions can even hike there along the Ridge Line Trail.