It’s good to be a dog in Weddington. By some measures, this Charlotte suburb is North Carolina’s third-richest town, which means plenty of treats for all. There are major pet supply retailers just over the Weddington town limits, along with the Weddington Animal Hospital. Located 16 miles south of Downtown Charlotte not far from I-485, Weddington also has a prime location to access creature comforts from throughout the metro area.
On the southern edge of town, the 52-acre Weddington Optimists Park was created by dog-loving members of the community and provides a half-mile walking trail with human fitness stations along the way (so you can get in a good workout even if your spotter has short legs). Just on the other side of Weddington Road — technically in the downtown of Waxhaw — is the dog park at Dogwood Park. This well-named puppy paradise is rich in both dogs in the two fenced off-leash enclosures, as well as woods to explore on-leash on the nature trails.
For more room to roam, head 20 miles west to the McDowell Nature Preserve on Lake Wylie and the Catawba River. With more than 1,000 acres, over 7 miles of well-marked trails, and even the 20-acre undeveloped Copperhead Island to explore, you and your buddies have plenty of furrific adventures ahead.
Directly north of the Weddington, the 265-acre Col Frances Beatty Park on Weddington Rd. in Matthews has walking trails you can explore with your on-leash friends. You'll find hilly paths popular with bikers and a network of footpaths that wind through the athletic fields and courts. Dog paddlers can use the boat launch to sniff out the lake in a kayak or canoe. Fuel up a couple of miles to the west: the shopping district surrounding Promenade on Providence is a hot spot for dog-friendly dining. Whether your pup prefers sushi, artisan pizza, or pub grub, you’ll find something to his taste. A local fave is Hickory Tavern, which you’ll pass on Hwy 16 on your way back to Weddington. Reviews praise the dog-loving staff and covered patio with heaters so your pups stay warm and dry in any weather.
The Marvin Efird Park lies between the Village of Marvin and the Town of Waxhaw, about 3.5 miles from Weddington. This beautifully landscaped nature park has walking trails, a meadow, and community gardens. On-leash dogs are welcome and the rules require owners clean up after pets. A unique shopping and dining experience awaits a few miles south a block from Main Street in Downtown Waxhaw. The dog-friendly covered porch at Crossroads Coffee House is a comfy place to warm up with a hot drink or share a delicious treat, and the historic log-cabin environment and retro décor are sure to charm your discerning pups.
There’s so much to do in the East Forest neighborhood of Charlotte that you won’t mind the 11.5-mile commute. (Most pups love to go bye-bye in the car anyway, right?) Start at McAlpine Creek Park off of Hwy 74. More than a hundred acres, the park has a peaceful 1.5-mile walking trail around the lake and an additional 2-mile biking/hiking trail if your four-legged friends aren’t spooked by two-wheeled travelers. Best of all is the off-leash dog park, where your pups can frolic in a recently-expanded enclosure. Need to get your workout, too? You can also catch the McAlpine Creek Greenway west to James Boyce Park: it’s a 1.7-mile hike or 4 miles by car.
11 miles west in Fort Mill, the Anne Springs Close Greenway is a bit of an investment but well worth it for discerning dogs. This sizable nature preserve is run by a private nonprofit. For a reasonable membership fee or daily pass, your pups get access to a network of more than 40 miles of peaceful trails for their on-leash exploration. ASCG members also have access to horseback riding and other athletic facilities. An additional monthly fee will get your pups entrance to the Mary Warner Mack Dog Park, open only to ASCG members. This posh park may be one of Charlotte’s most luxurious doggy digs, with 12 fenced acres for free play, including a mile-long off-leash trail leading to swimming access on the lake.
In Indian Trail, 12 miles from Weddington, the Dog Park at Crooked Creek Park is an inviting spot to spend the afternoon. The small- and large-dog fenced off-leash play areas are a pawpular stop; you can relax in the shade while your pups make new friends. When you’re ready for some fun of your own, try the 18-hole disc golf course. Your pups are welcome to join you as long as they stay on-leash and don’t leave behind any unpleasant surprises for the next players (so bring bags). A paved walking path leads from the course to the park’s athletic facilities and playground. If you still have energy to burn, Fred Kirby Park is nearby, too, you can grab a quick bite on the large dog-friendly patio at the Trail House restaurant in between.