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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. Download a Map.
The Nature Center features live, native animals, a discovery hall, and a gift shop. Outside, visitors can stop and observe nature in action at the Ozone Garden or the demonstration compost area, or enjoy a natural play area. Self-interpretive trail guides are available for miles of hiking trails.
A variety of programs are offered, including paddling tours of Lake Wylie and environmental education courses for all ages.
Flora and FaunaMcDowell Nature Preserve protects habitat for at least 119 species of birds, 21 species of mammals, 21 species of reptiles, and 14 species of amphibians. For a complete list of documented species, download ourvertebrate species checklist. Among the unusual species that have been found at the Preserve are: Seminole bat first record in NC-, spotted salamander, Gulf Coast spiny soft-shelled turtle, and Loggerhead Shrike. McDowell Nature Preserve is also well known for its diversity of spring ephemeral wild flowers and is among the best areas in Mecklenburg County to view Pileated Woodpeckers. The piedmont prairie restoration area of the preserve provides habitat for a federally endangered plant: Schweinitz's sunflower, a federal candidate species: Georgia aster, and one rare plant: prairie dock. Return to Top
AffiliationsMcDowell Nature Center is a proud member of the North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers and supports Environmental Educator's of North Carolina. The Nature Center is recognized as a WNCW Oasis and accepts the Oasis member discount card for gift shop purchases. The Nature Center is also a member of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Water Quality Coalition, is a certified National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat, participates in the Groundwater Guardian program, and serves as an ambassador for Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Project Feeder Watch.Return to Top