Encompassing the counties of Montgomery, Davidson, and Rudolph, as well as parts of Stanly, the Uwharrie National Forest and Mountains cover an extensive region of North Carolina. The former is situated atop the latter, and also derives its name from the historic mountain range. Accordingly, at the very end of the 18th century, significant nuggets of gold were discovered in the Uwharrie Mountains, so the area became prominent during the American gold rush. Home to dozens of trails stretching over a thousand miles cumulatively, as well as awe-inspiring mountains cloaked in oaks, pine trees, and more, this North Carolinian region is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers alike. Additionally, the Uwharrie National Forest offers more than gorgeous natural scenery–abandoned farms and houses are tucked away on many of the paths. There is almost an endless number of fascinating attractions hidden in these mountains. There are also a variety of vacation rentals in Uwharrie, North Carolina to choose from. Without further ado, here are several family-friendly trails that range from easy to moderately challenging.
1. Berner Trail
Ideal for beginners, families with young children, or hikers without enough time to trek for miles, the Berner Trail is only around half a mile long. The path is marked with yellow blazes, and in addition to being open to hikers, mountain bikers are welcome to use the route. On the short journey, visitors can expect to see lovely flora.
2. Badin Lake Hiking Trail
Constructed from 1979 to 1980 by the Youth Conservation Corps, this year-round loop trail spans a total of five and a half miles, but the shorter loop is only two and a half miles long. The path follows along the namesake lakes shore and loops through hardwood thickets. From the shore, visitors can fish and set up camp. Hikers can occasionally catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that soar over the lake.
3. Various Trails at Birkhead Mountains Wilderness Area
Located at the northern point of the Uwharrie Mountains, the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness area features three easy trails that are open year-round. The Robbins Branch Trail is a little over three miles long; Hannahs Creek Trail spans almost one and a half miles, and Thornburg Trail reaches nearly two miles in length. Since the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness area is considered State Game Lands, hunting is permitted in the region. Consequently, although it is not required, hikers are advised to wear orange-colored garments from the months of September until January. Dont forget to bring marshmallows and skewered food–Campfires are also allowed in the area.
4. Bates Trail
Compared to the aforementioned trails, the Bates Trail is not used as frequently, so its the go-to route for a relatively secluded and quiet hike. Just over a mile and a half long, the route is also open to mountain bikers. Moreover, hikers are allowed to collect dead wood for campfires.
5. Uwharrie National Recreation Trail
The Uwharrie National Recreation Trail is distinguished by its ecologically diverse landscape of creeks, rocky terrain, and trees. As the entire trail stretches for up to 20 miles, hikers need not trek the entire course to appreciate the natural beauty along the path. Although there are copious streams that run through the route, the water needs to be purified before it is safe for drinking. Accordingly, hikers should also carry plenty of insect repellent since ticks reside in the forest.
6. Robbins Trail
Stretching almost two miles in length, the Robbins Trail is a considerably easy path with yellow blazes. It guides hikers through woods often frequented by a variety of birds. The route is especially breathtaking during the fall season when the leaves change color.
7. Denson’s Creek Trail
Denson’s Creek Trail, which consists of a one-mile loop, as well as an extended loop of just over two miles, was constructed in 1974 by the Youth Conservation Corps. Benches are available along the route for hikers to rest and appreciate wildlife such as turkeys and deer, and the forest of hardwood trees and pines. Historic attractions at this trail include old farmland, houses reclaimed by nature, and a non-operational sawmill that currently serves as a food plot for animals. The springtime brings white and pink blossoms that dot the many laurel bushes on the trail.
8. Dutchman’s Creek Trail
Beginning at the same point as the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail, Dutchman’s Creek Trail is an easy, eleven-mile loop trail that offers a picturesque view of the western part of the mountain range. The path may be lengthy, but hikers do not have to complete the whole loop to see intriguing structures along the way. Abandoned gold mines, home sites, and cemeteries are scattered on and in proximity to the route.
9. Big Rock Loop
Considered only moderately challenging, Big Rock Loop spans just a little over a mile and features dark green-colored blazes. This path leads to the Nifty Rocks site which boasts massive boulders surrounded by towering trees. Shaded by the thickets, this point of interest would make a fantastic place for an afternoon picnic. Furthermore, during the winter months, the lake can be seen from the trail.
10. Hang Glider Trail
For families with older children who prefer a relatively difficult hike with a gorgeous payoff, the Hang Glider Trail is ideal. Marked with the salmon-colored blazer, this year-round path has a medium to heavy usage with daring hikers willing to trek to the scenic Hang Glider Rock. While the site ultimately features an impressive cliff, hang gliding from the area is not permitted.