Green Space Galore

Mother Nature offers abundance of local outdoor opportunities

By Nan Bauroth | Photos by Ray Sepesy

Summer is for getting into the great outdoors, and there’s no better place to indulge that desire than the Ballantyne area.

We’re talking 316 acres of public parks, a 5.8-mile stretch of greenways, a new mountain biking trail, three fishing ponds, a 5-acre dog park, a fit trail and two disc golf courses. Plus, an array of resources in the corporate park feature everything from a putting green and golf course to many miles of bike paths and walking trails.

In this article, we top-line these places to inspire you to go green this summer and explore the wealth of Mother Nature right here in the Ballantyne area.

Our Park
Kid Pond
Knotts Green
The Fit Trail

Ballantyne Pocket Parks

Unlike most corporate parks, Ballantyne’s 535 acres embrace the preservation of green space with 19 miles of walking trails and 6 miles of bike paths around the scenic landscape surrounding the office buildings.

Ballantyne is also unusual for its diverse “pocket parks,” intimate natural spaces with amenities that may include picnic tables, fishing ponds and fountains. “We’re always looking for ways to elevate the experience in Ballantyne, and we’re planning enhancements at some of our spaces to make them more universally appealing while adding energy and interesting features,” says Hailey Rorie, community director at Northwood Office.

Cullman Park, considered one of Ballantyne’s most beautiful spots, is adorned with a peaceful waterfall and two heron statues. Nearby are winding flights of steps, a charming bridge over a pond, a water fountain, red wooden benches and three patio tables with chairs and umbrella shading. Catch-and-release fishing is permitted.

Patrick Park, another serene space, features a gazebo and patio tables set along pathways lined in flowers and shrubbery.

Our Park, located at the main crossroads in Ballantyne, is beloved because of the three 2,000-pound bronze bulls on its expansive lawn. Our Park is dog friendly and has a swing set, two benches, three picnic tables and a grassy area perfect for flying a kite. The bulls also make for an ideal selfie spot.

Kid Pond, designed for the young and young at heart, has a boardwalk for catch-and-release fishing, plus a walking trail and two fountains. The fishing dock has three convenient wood benches and a dog station. For fishing rules, visit goballantyne.com/things-to-do/recreation.

Knotts Green, a USGA-standard putting surface located outside the Chandler, Hixon and Simmons buildings, is surrounded by two patio tables and four benches, ideal for relaxation or watching the golfers.

The Fit Trail, nestled in a wooded area off Ballantyne Corporate Place, is a 0.3-mile walking/jogging path with 20 exercise stations that provide a balanced program of fitness conditioning for all ages and sizes. There is also a bike rack at this park. For details on the trail and suggested walking/jogging circuits in Ballantyne, visit goballantyne.com/things-to-do/wellness.

The Ballantyne area is home to one of the most popular sections of greenway in the county, stretching 5.8 miles. Members of the Ballantyne Running Club enjoy training on the greenway.
The mountain biking trail at Ballantyne District Park includes three loops, each about a mile long and increasing in difficulty. Jay Camp and his daughters, Annabelle and Lily, enjoy riding here.
Ashley Caldwell and Anthony Toineeta take their pup, Bernard, to William Davie Park’s dog park, which has separate areas for dogs under 20 pounds and 20 pounds and larger.
This 118-acre green space behind Elon Park Elementary School features two, 18-hole disc golf courses, a beginner course and the Angry Beaver Course, which attracts advanced players such as Mike Roberson and Brant Weber.

Greenways

The Ballantyne area is home to one of the most popular sections of greenway in the county. Stretching 5.8 miles, the horseshoe-shaped stretch of greenway includes three segments. Four Mile Creek Greenway begins at Bevington Place and Rea Road. As it passes beneath Johnston Road, it turns into Lower McAlpine Creek Greenway, and eventually becomes McMullen Creek Greenway, ending at Highway 51.

The entire greenway is paved except for 1 mile of McMullen Creek Greenway that is a packed granular surface. There are four entrances with parking available: Bevington Place, Johnston Road, Vista Grande and Highway 51. See a map here: http://bit.ly/2L0fiWf.

On any given day the greenway attracts walkers, runners, bikers and nature lovers. Steven Crane sometimes enters behind Pike’s Nursery on his bike, but he also loves to walk it whenever he can. “I try to take 10,000 steps every day,” he says.

Ernestine Swann enjoys power walking with friends. “I used to come with a group training for half marathons because this greenway was the perfect length,” she says.

Wildlife observations are notably abundant along boardwalk paths that wander through wetlands and swamp forests, a favorite habitat of songbirds. Crane, an avid bird-watcher, recommends the greenway tours given by Bird House on the Greenway at The Shops at Piper Glen. “People don’t realize how much great wildlife is along this greenway,” he says enthusiastically. “Their late-winter Owl Prowl tour at night is very cool.” During summertime, the shop conducts Frog Walks at dusk.

“The tours are a lot of fun and great for kids of all ages,” says Carol Buie-Jackson, owner of the shop. “We see more than just frogs — deer, bunnies, beaver and muskrat. We never know who will show up. In late June, the firefly show is also spectacular. You look up, and the whole sky is sparkling with lightning bugs.”

Ballantyne District Park

Many may not realize there is a mountain biking trail in Ballantyne District Park. Located behind Morrison Family YMCA, Ballantyne’s newest public park features 91 acres with four lighted baseball/softball fields and one soccer field, picnic shelter and restroom, as well as a three-loop mountain biking trail initiated by community volunteers and students and  installed by the Tarheel Trailblazers.

“We constructed it thanks to donations from members and NC Velo bike shop in Blakeney,” says Bryan Hall, president of the Tarheel Trailblazers, noting that the three sections — Flow Loop, Fields Loop and Tech Loop — are each around a mile and increase in difficulty. “With donations, we plan to add more advanced features to the trail,” he adds.

Doug Beehler, who lives close by, likes to ride the trail with his brother-in-law. “We come often because it’s convenient and you can do a quick ride in a short period of time,” he says.

Ballantyne-area resident Jay Camp brought daughters Annabelle and Lily for the first time this spring. “We liked it because you go through different forests,” he says. “It was like riding a rollercoaster,” Annabelle adds. “The trail was so pretty. You can cruise up and down hills.” Entrance to the beginner loop is off the gravel parking lot near the Community House Road roundabout.

William Davie Park

Located on Pineville-Matthews Road just east of Rea Road, William Davie Park is popular with athletes because of its four lighted softball fields, two lighted soccer fields, volleyball court, two horseshoe pits, pond, two playgrounds and restrooms.

The 107-acre park is also a magnet for canine lovers because it has the only dog park in the Ballantyne area, a 5-acre, fenced-in secure area with two sections — one for dogs 20 pounds or larger, the other for dogs weighing less than 20 pounds. No children under 12 are allowed in the dog park, and dogs must meet all guidelines and maintain current vaccinations in off-leash areas.

Elon Park

This 118-acre green space behind Elon Park Elementary School on Ardrey Kell Road has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts, starting with four artificial turf soccer fields, a youth softball field and a fishing pond.

But the two 18-hole disc golf courses are one of its biggest draws. The Eager Beaver Course for beginners has two sets of pads (tees), a favorite with families who arrive with the family dog to walk the holes and get some exercise.

“It’s free and great family fun,” says Thomas Jordan, who brings daughters Novalie and Paris. “It’s also close to home so we can do it in about an hour and a half.” Jason Weselov also comes with son Kellen here on Saturday mornings. “There are a lot of other disc golf courses in Charlotte, but this one is the most kid friendly,” he notes.

At just more than 7,000 feet long, the Angry Beaver Course that winds through wooded hills attracts groups of avid advanced players who tote bags of 10 or more discs, each designed for a different type of shot. Elon Park also has a gymnasium for shooting hoops, as well as regular badminton and pickleball games.

Social Hour in the Park

This summer, Northwood Office invites the greater Ballantyne community to attend the family friendly Ballantyne Social Hour at the Brixham Tent, a favorite gathering space for food trucks and activities.

The free event — Thursday, Aug. 15, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. — is a tie-in with Ballantyne’s annual Color the Park School Supplies Drive. Brewers at 4001 Yancey and Shelton Vineyards will partner to donate $1 for every drink sold. Attendees will also enjoy live music, food trucks and other vendors. Info: goballantyne.com.