Explore The Rail Trail
The Rail Trail is more than just a paved path; it’s a South End destination that offers a new experience every time you visit. Not sure where to start? Here’s your guide to interacting with the Rail Trail.
About the Rail Trail
Winding through the heart of South End along the light rail tracks, the Rail Trail is a 3.5-mile linear public park that connects the community together and provides access to restaurants, breweries, bars, shops, public art and more. The popular urban trail brings the culture and character of Charlotte to life through its eclectic art, pop-up performances, creative hangout spots and some of the best people watching in the city.
Running parallel to the LYNX Blue Line, the Rail Trail is easy to access from the light rail at any South End station. You can also drive and park or ride a CATS bus to the area.
In the coming years, a pedestrian bridge will be constructed across Interstate 277 to provide direct access from Uptown to South End, further positioning the Rail Trail as a transit hub that links businesses, residents and visitors to the neighborhood.
Running, jogging, walking, roller blading, skateboarding, scootering, biking and even unicycling, no matter what mode you want to move, you can do it on the Rail Trail. There’s no shortage of intriguing scenery and art pieces that will grab your interest along the way.
You can rent an electric scooter from a ride-sharing program like Bird, Lime or Spin or an electric bike from Charlotte Joy Rides. Just download the app for each to get started.
Get moving on the Rail Trail with one of the weekly run clubs.
Not only can you see art along the Rail Trail, you can also walk on it, touch it, interact with it and snap a selfie with it. Don’t miss these art pieces during your next visit to the Rail Trail (listed from north to south):
- Rail Trai Lights, Presented by U.S. Bank
- Color Forest
- Pre-historic South End Brontosaurus
- Rail Trail Chalkboard
- Dilworth Artisan Station Windows and Mural
- Camden Wall Mosaic Frieze
- Steelyard Mural
- Duke Energy Substation
- Exclamation Point
- Magic Carpet Murals
- Pepsi Cube
Discover many of these pieces using South End Interactive, a self-guided art tour where users can interact with the piece using VR technology.
South End offers diverse culinary options with several that sit directly on the Rail Trail and others just steps away.
Carson Blvd Station is a half-mile or less from Craft Tasting Room, Lincoln St. Kitchen + Cocktail, Seoul Food Meat Co., Let's Meat Korean BBQ, Ruby Sunshine, El Toro Burto inside Resident Culture, and Katsu Kart at HopFly Brewing.
Near the Bland Street Station, head to Hot Taco, All American Pub, Tavern on the Tracks, Futo Buta, Condado Tacos, Early Girl Eatery, or Flower Child.
Stop at East/West Blvd Station to check out Sabor, Leroy Fox, Bulgogi Box, and Two Scoops Creamery.
Walk a few blocks to the Design Center and choose from a selection of eateries, including Pepperbox Doughnuts, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Shake Shack, Barcelona Wine Bar, Superica, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.
Atherton Mill, just a few more blocks south, is home to unique culinary concepts like O-Ku, Living Kitchen, Indaco, and The Eagle Food & Beer Hall. On Saturday mornings, local farmers, food artisans and crafters set up at the South End Market at Atherton Mill.
Stop at New Bern Station to dine at Suffolk Punch, Eight + Sand Kitchen, Stable Hand, Penn Station, Link & Pin, Mac’s Speed Shop, and SouthBound.
South End is known for its dynamic brewery culture and a few of the most popular spots are easy to get to from the Rail Trail as well as locally owned coffee and wine shops.
While trekking the Rail Trail, make a pit stop at Sycamore Brewing near East/West Blvd Station, or Suffolk Punch and Triple C near New Bern Station to soak up some local craft beer.
But there’s more than just beer brewing in South End. Stop by Not Just Coffee or Vin Master Wine Shop at Atherton Mill, at Eight + Sand Kitchen for near New Bern Station, or in the Design Center to find Bitty and Beau's or Elsewhere!
Take a break from your next walk, run or ride on the Rail Trail and support local by shopping small.
Stop by 704 Shop, Selenite Beauty, and Girl Tribe near East/West Blvd Station.
Hop off the Rail Trail near East/West Blvd Station and head to the Design Center to peruse the offerings at Lilbelle, Fit Atelier, and OMJ Clothing. Head to Atherton Mill to shop at national stores like Anthropologie, Free People, Madewell, Lululemon, Sephora, and West Elm, as well as local favorites like Boem, Society Social, Uniquities, and Golden Carrot. Don’t forget to visit the South End Market on Saturday mornings for fresh produce and goods from local farmers and artisans.
A few blocks from Bland Station, you'll find The Shops at the Winnifred, the first micro-retail shops in the neighborhood featuring fashion boutiques, handmade leather goods, skateshops, and more!
There are so many activities to do, small businesses to discover and places to eat, but the Rail Trail is also the perfect place to get some fresh air, relax and unwind after a busy day.
After a leisurely walk, take a break on the bright yellow porch swings at Edna’s Porch near the Carson Boulevard Station and enjoy the Uptown skyline, people watching, or reading a book from one of South End’s Little Free Libraries. Close to the Bland Street Station near Futo Buta, you'll find Fowler Porch, where you can sit on the see-saw. Get your game on at the Urban Design Center, where you can play ping pong or just hangout at the bistro tables, or at Atherton Mill's giant outdoor chess set.
Join volunteers as they help keep Charlotte beautiful at the Rail Trail Cleanups. Stroll the Rail Trail picking up litter, and enjoy raffles, swag, and a free drink at the volunteer appreciation event. The Rail Trail Cleanups are sponsored by U.S. Bank as part of the I Heart Rail Trail initiative.
The Rail Trail is a purposeful place that brings the community together through its network of public art and unique spaces to relax, eat, drink and play. Start exploring and tag us in your pictures at @SouthEndCLT and @RailtTrailCLT with the hashtags #SouthEndCLT and #RailTrailCLT. Happy trails!