Jetton Park: Cornelius, North Carolina

Encompassing an entire peninsula on the popular Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, North Carolina, the 1.5 mile loop at Jetton Park is ideal for getting a quick nature fix or workout in – by yourself, or with the family.

Get Ready: From Downtown Charlotte, Jetton Park is a straight shot up I-77. Depending on traffic, it will take about 30 minutes. Take exit 28 onto Catawba Road and head toward the lake. When you get to Magnolia Plaza, turn right onto Jetton Road and follow along until you see the sign for Jetton Park on the left.

Get Set: Depending on the time of year, you may have to pay a fee at the entrance. When we went in late March, the station was not staffed. Follow the one-way road to the first parking area on the left and pick a spot.

Go: Cross the road and look for the three posts marked with a swath of yellow – the paved path will carry you for about 1.5 miles, passing private picnic spots (you can reserve them!),  patches of beach along Lake Norman, and a pretty event center – with bathrooms and a water fountain. Once you get to that point, it might be hard to see the paved path – stick to the water line and you’ll be set.

Effort: For a physically fit person, this will feel like a pleasant stroll. There are some ups and downs, but if you’re looking to sweat, I would recommend running the loop once or twice. Be mindful – this trail attracts people of all ages and it’s a popular spot for children. My grandma, who is 76 years old, was able to complete the trail at a steady pace.

Takeaway: If you’re looking for a place in the Charlotte metropolitan area to get your kids immersed in nature – quickly and easily – Jetton Park is a great choice. Not only will they get a taste of the Loblolly Pine forest, but you can also expose them to the sparkling shoreline of Lake Norman. The park is a good option if you’re in the Davidson-Cornelius-Huntersville area and want to get a nature run in.