A dog’s delight at Whitewater Center

Entertainment Pets

March 29, 2024

A dog walks out of the water at Whitewater Center's Off Leash dog park in south Mecklenburg.

A new 70-acre dog park debuts March 30 with trails, waterfront access and treats for people, as well as their four-legged companions.

By Sharon Smith

The new dog park at Whitewater Center, Off Leash, looks to be a dog’s dream — a place where pups can explore off-leash trails, get their paws wet and relax with a treat.

It’s a first-of-its-kind destination in Charlotte. The area has a pebble beach, dock, drinking trough and dog-wash station. But the biggest attraction may be all that room to roam within Off Leash. Visitors can hike, walk and run along the 1.5-mile Lake Loop trail, which has several lake viewpoints. With plenty of open space and wooded areas, it should be easy to spread out from others and play a game of fetch, or just relax.

The Barley House, a new outpost in the Off Leash area at Whitewater Center.
The Barley House outpost at Off Leash


Dogs must have a collar and tag, be at least 4 months old and vaccinated. Guests must purchase a pass for each dog, and there’s a three-dog limit per person. Read all the Off Leash rules before your visit.

“There are plenty of off-leash dog areas in the Charlotte area, and there are plenty of places where you can walk on a trail with your dog on a leash,” Jeff Wise, Whitewater Center president and CEO, shared in a statement. “But this will be the first destination that brings those two concepts together, and the result is a place where you and your dog can have a memorable outdoor experience with each other.”


Food and drink offerings for each dog’s human counterpart are available at the new Barley House (where you enter Off Leash). The Barley House is a traditional, timber-framed, mortise and tenon joinery outpost. Take in a view of the lake on the back deck or cool off steps away under the shaded pavilion.

To align with Whitewater’s effort to be a good steward of the environment, the pine trees from the area were repurposed into building materials for the structures.


Opening weekend hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cost is $10 for a single activity access pass, $20 for a monthly pass or there’s the WWC all-activities annual pass option for $149. SP

Images courtesy Whitewater Center

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