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Iswa Nature Preserve is a 137-acre tract located in west Mecklenburg County, adjacent to Highway 29/74 on the east bank of Lake Wylie. The site is comprised of mixed hardwoods, pine plantations, and a significant power line right-of-way. The shoreline and adjacent 500' buffer comprise a North Carolina Natural Heritage Site (NC Natural Heritage Program). Additionally, the preserve is home to one of the largest populations of Georgia Aster (Symphyiotrichum georgianum) known to exist. The Georgia Aster is a candidate for the federal endangered species list.

Location and Directions

Iswa Nature Preserve is located in far west Mecklenburg County, due south of Highway 29/74 at the Catawba River Bridge. Getting there, take Exit 9 (Highway 29/74 West) from Interstate 485. Go 2 miles and the preserve is located on the south side of the highway, just before the Catawba River Bridge.

History and Description 

Iswa Nature Preserve is named after the catawba word for "river", specifically the Catawba River. The preserve is a unique mixture of mature hardwood forest and successional habitats. It is one of the few remaining large tracts of forested land on the Catawba River in Mecklenburg County. As a result of the 2008 Park and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan, which included citizen input, staff recommendations, and professional gap analysis, this site was formally designated as a Nature Preserve. It will be protected in perpetuity for watershed protection, natural communities' protection, and the provision of passive recreation opportunities.


Iswa Nature Preserve does not currently provide any amenities or staff. There are currently discussions to provide limited amenities (trailhead, trash cans, etc.) at this site. Prior to any substantial improvements this site would undergo a Master Plan process and would require capital funding. As part of the 2008 Park and Recreation Bond, $400,000 has been dedicated to begin the Master Plan process and possible Phase 1 construction. We will keep this site posted with any future details. 

Flora & Fauna
Some of the interesting species that have been found at the Preserve are: squaw root, puttyroot orchid, northern mockingbird, and wild ginger. The preserve protects a 40-acre natural heritage site on the east bank of the Catawba River/Lake Wylie and also includes some quality south slope Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest with many interesting vegetation types.


Office Location:

15222 York Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28278


Kevin Metcalf