Rock Hill Coca-Cola Blog

Picnic Trip: McDowell Nature Preserve and Center

This month’s Rock Hill Coca-Cola Bottling Company Picnic Trip takes us just up the road and over the North Carolina State line to the McDowell Nature Preserve and Center. A quick 30 minute trip will find you in a lovely natural area with plenty of activities to make your picnic worth the trip. Load up the coolers with lunch and Coke products (and maybe the tents and kayaks) and visit the McDowell Nature Preserve.


Although you can reach the McDowell Nature Preserve via a drive up the interstate, we recommend taking the more scenic route to get into the picnic spirit. The more pleasant drive will only take an extra 5 minutes and will avoid the stress of multi-lane travel.

From Rock Hill take 90 W towards Newport, then take 274 N. Turn right onto SC-49 N and follow that road into North Carolina and on to the the McDowell Nature Preserve.

What to Do

Nature Center

Start your visit at the McDowell Nature Center. There you will see live native animals, a discovery hall, and a gift shop. Be sure to pick up a trail guide for the over 7 miles of self-guided hiking trails.

You might also want to visit the website to download a copy of the vertebrate species checklist to use on your hikes.

On and Around the Water

If you’re more comfortable on the water than on the land, you can launch a kayak, canoe, or other boat. Guided kayak tours are available. Folks with a valid North Carolina fishing license can use one of several fishing docks. Some of these docks are located on Copperhead Island, a 20 acre island open to the public unless it’s been reserved for the day.

Extend the Picnic

Turn your picnic trip into an over-night adventure at the McDowell campground. Then you can enjoy several picnics for a couple of days. This location features 56 campsites ranging from primitive camping to full RV hookups, so even the most casual camper can find a location.

Larger groups can reserve Copperhead Island for group camping.