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McDowell Nature Preserve


This 1,200+ acre nature preserve protects a section of the Catawba River shoreline along Lake Wylie in Mecklenburg County. The entire preserve is designated a significant natural heritage site. The preserve is predominately forested and there are more than 100 species of wildflowers and ferns growing here. Birding along the lake can produce good finds during migration and in winter. Good habitat for both grassland birds and butterflies can be explored at the 150-acre Piedmont Prairie restoration site. Investigate the forest areas by walking over 7 miles of trails that meander throughout the preserve. Birders can easily spend more than a day here, exploring the roads and trails, stopping at the nature center, boating, fishing, or picnicking in the park. Other wildlife that can be found at the preserve include bobcat (rarely seen), red fox, gray fox, coyote, box turtle, hognose snake, white-tailed deer, and numerous species of dragonflies and butterflies.

Species of Interest (Full Bird List)

Common Loon, Northern Harrier, Pileated Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Prairie Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow


oak forest & mixed hardwoods/pine, early successional, lake

Access and Parking

Access is directly off York Road (NC 49). The preserve is open daily, 7am to sunset. The Nature Center is open 9am to 5pm, Monday - Saturday; 1pm to 5pm on Sunday. Call 704-432-4531 to inquire about bird programs and guided nature tours.


From I-77, take Exit 6A for NC 49 South/York Road. Travel south on York Road for 10 miles. The nature preserve entrance and sign are on the right

Google Directions

Delorme Gazetteer Page


Bird List

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