As you drive up Mallard Creek Church Road, just before you reach Interstate 85, you can see the fields and a boardwalk on the right, but you may not know what else is available there.
The boardwalk, which you can see from the road, is a 1/3-mile walkway, built in 2000, that takes visitors into the wetlands that surround the 36-acre, county park called Kirk Farm Fields. Along the boardwalk, visitors can get a close-up view of the flora and fauna native to the North Carolina wetlands.
The park is named in honor of John Kirk and the four generations of family who farmed the site that he bought after the Civil War.
The open space that hosts five youth soccer fields sits next to the eastern end of the Clark’s Creek/Mallard Creek Greenway. The path begins next to the boardwalk, leading back under East Mallard Creek Church Road. The greenway, which is hidden from the road, is part of the Carolina Thread Trail and runs for 7.3 miles.
The greenway is paved, except for the gravel 1.2-mile University Research Park section in the middle, leading through a less-developed area. Residents use the greenway, which connects many of the University City neighborhoods, for jogging, biking, skateboarding and walking to and around the UNC Charlotte area.
UNCC biology professor Carrie Wells was walking her two dogs, Phoebe and Georgia, on the greenway the morning of July 4. She said she uses the greenway daily. “This path leads to my office at Woodward Hall, and many of my fellow professors use this trail as it leads to the athletic fields on campus,” she said.
Charlotte resident Nakesha Ball, 40, comes five times a week to walk the greenway. She said that the greenway is 10 minutes from her home and that she comes here because “I enjoy the shaded walkway, and the volume of traffic makes me feel safe.”
At the entrance to the greenway there is a bicycle “Fix It” station. There is a rack to hold the bike up in the air as you use the tools, attached to rack with metal cables, to work on your bike. There is even an air pump to fill up your tires if your pressure is a little low.
Highland Creek resident Peter Hohenstein, 63, rides his bike at many of the Mecklenburg parks. “This is my easy ride,” he said as he compared the shaded, easy-to-pedal path to harder trails at North Mecklenburg Park and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Hohenstein said he usually bikes about 12 miles per ride and “would love the day when they hook all the greenways together so you can just keep going.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to go?
Kirk Farm Fields is located at 210 East Mallard Creek Church Road. Admission is free, and the park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, go to http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/ParkandRec/Parks/ParksByRegion/NorthRegion/Pages/KirkFarmFields.aspx
For more information on the Carolina Thread Trail, go to http://www.carolinathreadtrail.org
For more information on Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation greenways, go to http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/ParkandRec/Greenways/Pages/default.aspx