Latta Nature Preserve in Huntersville provides one of the best outdoor experiences in the area. From waterfront views and sand volleyball courts to the Carolina Raptor Center, there is something for everyone. However, the nature trails are arguably the best feature. With winding trails throughout the whole property at varying lengths and difficulties, there are plenty of beautiful sights to see.


View of the outside of Quest

Quest serves as the gateway to the 1,460 acres of Latta Nature Preserve and is the source for educational programs and information on the preserve's natural communities, flora, and fauna. The preserve, Mecklenburg County's largest, forms a green peninsula extending into Mountain Island Lake and protects a natural heritage site and several endangered plants.​ Quest features live, native animals, a 3,000 square-foot interactive exhibit hall including a 6,000-gallon aquarium, classrooms, conference rooms, rentable space and the Raptor Center's gift shop.

Carolina Raptor Center

The Carolina Raptor Center relies on public financial support to fulfill their mission goals which include environmental education, the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors, and environmental stewardship. The organization’s science education programs serve over 27,000 students a year in formal education settings. The ¾-mile Raptor Trail and Edna S. Moretti Environmental Education Center welcomes over 35,000 visitors a year. The Jim Arthur Raptor Medical Center treats 900-1,000 birds a year, releasing almost 70% back into the wild.

Woman holding an owl at the Carolina Raptor Center

Trail Guide

An image of the greenery at the Latta Nature Preserve

Latta Nature Preserve has 16 miles of trails offering hikers, nature enthusiasts, and horseback riders the opportunity to explore a variety of terrain while enjoying scenic views of the lake, forests, and streams. It is the only Mecklenburg County property open to horseback riding. Thirteen (13) miles are designated as horseback and hiking trails and three (3) miles are designated as hiking only. The county does not provide horses for rent. Due to the delicate nature of sharing trails with horses, mountain bikes are permitted only on paved roads within the preserve.

Visitors bringing their own horses can park their trailer in a designated horse trailer parking lot and base out of that location to explore the entire preserve. Proof of 12-month negative Coggins should be available for inspection. ​Dogs are welcome on preserve trails, but must remain on a 6-foot or shorter leash at all times. All trails are marked with color symbols and some overlap for varying distances.

Pick a trail that's right for you and hit the ground running with this comprehensive trail guide map!

View of the lake at the Latta Nature Preserve

Know Before You Go

People enjoying a picnic at Latta Nature Preserve

Latta Nature Preserve offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Paddling enthusiasts will find two launch areas that provide access to Gar Creek and Mountain Island Lake, including an ADA-accessible ramp. Numerous fishing opportunities are available, including a fishing dock. Anglers ages 16 and older must have an NC State Fishing License.

A variety of picnic areas can be used on a first-come-first-served basis, while the larger shelters are available by reservation Call (980) 314-7878. Restrooms are available as well as a sand volleyball court.

Latta Nature Preserve is a great way to enjoy the outdoors in Lake Norman. From the Carolina Raptor Center to the winding trails through the wilderness, you truly can't go wrong. Be sure to tag us on social media while exploring all that Latta has to offer @VisitLakeNorman!