Charlotte hikers enjoy the best of both worlds. With 21 nature preserves in the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation System, a short escape into the wild is never far away. Two nearby state parks — Morrow Mountain and Crowders Mountain — and the Uwharrie National Forest offer long hikes with not much more than an hour invested behind the wheel. It’s all good training for the rugged Southern Appalachian hiking that begins less than two hours away. Hiker friendly environs indeed.