McDowell Nature Center serves as the gateway to the 1,116 acres of McDowell Nature Preserve and is the source for educational programs and information on the preserve's natural communities, flora, and fauna. The preserve, the oldest in Mecklenburg County, protects mostly forested, rolling terrain along the banks of Lake Wylie.
The preserve offers numerous ways to enjoy the outdoors. Boating enthusiasts can take advantage of the public boat ramps at Copperhead Island or participate in a guided kayaking tour. There are a number of fishing docks for public use. Anglers age 16 and older must have an NC State fishing license.
Shaded playgrounds and a variety of picnic areas can be used on a first come-first-serve basis, while a few larger shelters and the waterfront deck are available for reservation. Public restrooms available at the large shelters, nature center, campground, and waterfront.