Call the Segway tour at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve the coolest way to spend a hot day. And we’ll bet you never knew it existed; at least until now. Tucked away near the back of the park, is a portal to a one-of-a-kind vantage point at Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s most visited properties.
And on select weekends from spring through fall, you can take guided Segway tours around this expansive property that was once a cotton plantation, and now serves as part of a protective barrier for the area’s largest drinking water supply. With more than 1,400 acres of parkland, lakeshore, trails, and history to explore, there’s no better way to see everything Latta has to offer!
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is home to 16 miles of hiking trails, the historic plantation home, stand-up paddling, kayaking, horseback riding, the Nature Center, picnic shelters, and fishing (whew!) … so why add Segway tours to a park that already gets 400,000 visitors a year?
“The goal of the Segway tours was twofold,” said Deputy Director of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Michael Kirschman. “First, to attract a new audience to the nature preserve… secondly, to provide a new nature-based ‘adventure’ activity.”
Gilligan himself wished he had a three-hour tour packed this full of adventure. Here’s what to expect:
Our tour started with the serious business of Segway safety. Our guide and program founder, Kevin Pimentel walked us through the “how to” paces of starting, stopping, and turning the off-road-ready Segway. After some skills sessions over roots, rocks, and ditches, we hit the trail. And with so many to choose from, Kevin was able to customize our tour to our comfort level on the Segway; providing a perfect fit for any tour since all are conducted in groups no larger than four.
After a first stop at the historic Latta Plantation Home, we took to the woods for the likes of the Catawba Trail, Buzzard Rock Trail, Laura’s Trail, and other connectors before regrouping to talk about upcoming trail improvements that will upgrade access, control erosion, and maintain that delicate balance between public use and preservation.
Mecklenburg County has made it a priority to protect as much of the Mountain Island Lake shoreline as possible, Pimentel told us. Cleaner water entering treatment before it reaches our taps is not only a good thing for obvious reasons, it’s also a money-saver. Cleaner water requires less work from pump equipment, which means less treatment and longer-lasting equipment. All very good things.
Latta’s many miles of trails mean practically endless options based on speed, skill, and interest of the riders. Got lots of questions about flora and fauna? Want to stop for plenty of pictures? No problem. We stopped plenty for both and still managed to cover about five miles of trail that included a detour to a lookout with an expansive view perched high above the Mountain Island Lake shoreline.
“The tours are an excellent opportunity for folks to cover some of the trail,” added Pimentel. “They also attract a different and new audience, and that gives me a chance to open up the door to the world that is Latta Plantation Nature Preserve.”
And what a world it is.
- Plan ahead. Segway tours at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve are offered on Saturday and Sunday for only $35.
- Make time. With a such a unique opportunity, why hurry? Expect to spend about 3 hours on the tour.
- Bring your camera: There’s lots to see; just don’t try and take pictures on the move!
- Feet first. Choose close-toed, comfortable shoes. Safety first. Even though you won’t do much walking, your feet do the work to control these two-wheelers!
- Little extras: Sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray can make a big difference.
- Water: Each Segway has a front-loading pouch to carry any size water bottle.
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve is located at 5226 Sample Road, in Huntersville. Practically every amenity in the park can be accessed from Sample Road, the park’s entry off of Beatties Ford Road. It’s open daily, sunrise to sunset.