Riding Uwharrie National Forest, NC

Named for the ancient mountain range it covers, the Uwharrie National Forest occupies just less than 53,000 acres, more than 80% of which is located in Montgomery County. Davidson has a small portion and the Birkhead Wilderness is in Randolph County. Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, it is one of America’s youngest national forests.

The Forest has more than 50 miles of hiking trails for those who prefer to see the forest on foot. Trails range in length from 2 to 20 miles and loops can be taken to vary length and degree of difficulty. Backpackers favor the 20.5-mile Uwharrie National Trail for its inviting creek-side campsites. Campers who prefer hot showers to a splash of creek water can find four developed campgrounds in the Badin Lake Recreation area.

The Woodrun Mountain Bike Trail System spans 22 miles. Bikers park at the Woodrun Trailhead and peddle up Woodrun Road to take on the rough and rocky Keyauwee and Supertree Trails. Designated trails are also available in the forest for offroad vehicles and horses.


Four lakes and four rivers add plenty of water to the topographical mix in the Uwharries. Kayaking or canoeing the Uwharrie River offers views of the forest much like those seen by Native Americans thousands of years ago. Whether fishing, skiing, swimming or pleasure boating, visitors can find a perfect spot on a chain of lakes that follow the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin through the Uwharrie Mountains. Tuckertown Reservoir, Badin Lake, Falls Reservoir and Lake Tillery combine for more than 10,000 acres of water-based recreation.

The Uwharrie National Forest is just one hour from both Charlotte and the Triad and two hours from Raleigh. The District Ranger Station is located just east of Troy on NC24/27. The phone number there is (910) 576-6391.

We spent some time up in Uwharrie National Forest, NC, a few weeks ago, just scouting around, looking at places to camp and ride. I decided to ride up there again last Saturday (Lois is still out with her clavicle fracture from a previous ride in sand ;() to do some more exploring. There are miles of nice forest service roads to ride on, in addition to the OHV trails. Not that we would take the bikes on these trails. Some of them are outright hairy, but on a 4-wheeler, absolutely.

Looks like I need a better video camera and mount to ride off-road with (hint hint). It's shaking pretty bad.


Next Trip up: Natchez Trace Parkway MS-AL-TN

The Natchez Trace Parkway is established to commemorate the historical significance of the Old Natchez Trace. Originally a primitive trail that stretched 500 miles through the wilderness from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, throughout the years it has gained a rich history that continues to fascinate visitors who travel in the footsteps of those who've gone before.

History has witnessed several phases in the development of the Natchez Trace, each with a distinct origin and purpose. Residents of Fort Nashborough in Tennessee (a city now known as 'Nashville') named the first part of the trail Chickasaw Trace because it led to the lands of the Chickasaw Nation. The trails heading southwest were controlled by the Choctaw Nation and then led onward toward Natchez. Eighteenth-century British maps labeled the trail as the "Path to the Choctaw Nation." Discover the history of the Indian tribe that once resided there at several places along the trail, such as Buzzard Roost in Alabama, which tells the story of the Chickasaw chief Levi Colbert, or the Chickasaw Village in Mississippi, which shows of the life of the Chickasaw Indians. Visitors can go to what was once the center of activities for the now-extinct Natchez Indians, or visit Mississippi's Emerald Mound, one of the largest ceremonial mounds in the United States. Finally, no trip is complete without visiting sites on the Trail of Tears Historic Trail (which runs through several states, including Alabama and Tennessee), where in 1838 the United States government forced more than 16,000 Cherokee Indian people from their homelands and sent them to Indian Territory.

The South has many places with stories about the Civil War and the battlefields along the way. The Natchez Trace Parkway is no exception. Be sure to stop by Shiloh National Military Park near Savannah, Tennessee, which was the site of a two-day battle involving 65,000 Union and 44,000 Confederate troops. The Stones River National Battlefield near Nashville, Tennessee provided a decisive moral boost for Union troops. The Tupelo National Battlefield in Mississippi is a one-acre site that commemorates the last major Civil War battle in Mississippi. There the Union Army utilized their USCT's (United States Colored Troops) to engage in battle. Pay your respects to those who lost their lives in battle at the memorials at Brice's Cross Roads National Battlefield Site north of Tupelo, Mississippi, and Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Vicksburg contains museums, monuments, and many artifacts, so be sure to spend some time perusing the local historical attractions.

After Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, he marched his troops home along the path — an event that signaled not only the war's end, but also the decline of the importance of the road as a transportation corridor. In the years following 1820, this road was finally referred to as the "Natchez Trace."

We'll probably ride this trail in October 2010. Hopefully we will be able to hit the right time for the fall colors.