U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Uwharrie National Forest

North Carolina

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Forest Information

he Uwharrie National Forest, located in north-central North Carolina near Charlotte, is comprised of 49,857 acres. There are five developed campgrounds four of which meet the selection criteria.

Located in central North Carolina, the area now known as Uwharrie National Forest, has long attracted visitors. Archeologists think one reason for all these visitors was the materials found in the earth. The Uwharrie Mountains are an ancient volcanic mountain chain where the dominate rock is rhyolite. Rhyolite, a tool-making rock important to prehistoric people, was exposed by centuries of erosion caused by water, wind, and ice, making it easy to find in this area.

Later, the fertile rolling land attracted a few European settlers but it was another by-product of the ancient volcanos, gold, that brought a boom to the area. Settlements popped up and faded with that 18th century gold rush. Now, old home sites, cemeteries, and piles of tailings from gold mines dot the Uwharrie National Forest. Today, visitors still come to the Uwharrie National Forest looking for riches. Some come try their hand at panning for the last of Uwharrie's gold (check with Forest Service for regulations and the best locations) but most come for other easier to archive riches. These folks are looking for gold in a sunset, a flash of silver when a hook is set just right, the precious solitude of trails through towering old-growth woods, and just plain good old-fashion fun times. The Uwharrie National Forest has such riches and many more to offer.

Although the Uwharrie National Forest is the smallest National Forest in North Carolina, it boasts of over 50 miles of trails. From a 1-mile loop trail along Densons Creek to the 21-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail, the Uwharrie's many maintained trails vary in length and mode. Whether on foot, horse, mountain bicycle, or in an OHV and 4X4, these trails offer visitors a unique, up-close view of the Forest.

The Uwharrie National Forest's mountains are not the tower monoliths found west of the Mississippi River, but gently rounded mounds that invite hikers, bikers, and equestrian riders to explore the ancient landscape. Located conveniently to some of the more popular trails are four very different camping locations.

The most developed, and probably the popular for a family camping vacation of these campgrounds, is Arrowhead campground. Well-suited for recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts, Arrowhead is located on a hardwood covered bluff overlooking Badin (pronounced Bay-din) Lake and Arrowhead boasts of electric hook-ups at a third of its sites, delightfully modern bathrooms (one is "family- style"), and a boat ramp. The campground is composed of a single spur and two loops. The spur has no electric hook-ups and leads from the campgrounds's entrance to the large single loop. This large single loop does have electric hook-ups and some sites overlook Badin Lake. Off the large loop is a small tent-only loop in a heavily wooded area. Although a short distance from Badin Lake, the dense vegetation from the hardwoods limits views of the lake to the fall and winter months. The campground features one of the most luxurious and modern bathhouse to be found in the Forest Service system. It is more like home than a Forest Service campground. Besides the usual gang-style bathroom facilities, the bathhouse includes a deep/laundry sink with large counter for tent campers's dishwashing chores and a separate family-style bathroom with shower and baby's changing surface. Several other "nice" touches at this campground include a lamp post at each campsite, a security gate (closed 10pm to 6 am daily), and paved parking aprons. Warning: a planned overnight a stay at this campground could lead to many return trips.

A short distance north of Arrowhead campground is Badin Lake campground. This campground overlooks Badin Lake but with vault toilets, dirt aprons and no direct access for boats to the lake, Badin Lake campground has a more rustic feel. This campground, more popular with car and tent camping enthusiasts, boasts of having excellent fishing spots along the nearby shoreline where most anglers, young and old, are able to catch enough fish for at least one dinner.

An alternative to fishing and water play opportunities found at Arrowhead and Badin Lake campgrounds, is exploring the surrounding area via the Badin Lake Trail. This trail has two sections: a 2.5-mile loop and a 5.6-mile trail which basically follows the peninsula of land that juts into Badin Lake. Besides scenic views of the lake, this trail offers hikers an opportunity to explore the ecosystem and some gold mining ventures.

The least developed of Uwharrie's developed campgrounds is West Morris, (a.k.a West Morris Mountain). West Morris has no drinking water, no lake, and no luxuries. What it does have is easy access to the 20-mile Uwharrie Trail, a surrounding dense stand of hardwod trees, and a quiet solitude not found at the other developed campgrounds.

Last be not least of the Uwharrie National Forest's developed campgrounds is its newest, Canebrake Horse Camp. The Forest has, for many years, had set two large open grassy areas for horse campers but Canebrake is the first developed campground for these campers. With flush toilets and hot showers and spacious sites with level parking aprons, Canebrake is a delightful addition to the Uwharrie's inventory of campgrounds. But what makes this campground so very special are the showers. One shower facility is for the horses and the other is for their riders. A trail around the campground, providing access to 38 miles of trails that wander through the surrounding mountains, Cyprus work tables with their own lantern pole, and lead-lines for each site are some other special features of Canebrake - but those showers must be a delight for both horse and rider.

The rugged beauty and cool climate found in Uwharrie National Forest have long attracted campers and visitors from all over the USA, but especially from the metropolitan areas of Raleigh, Greensboro, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Some come in the summer to enjoy the waterplay opportunities found on Badin Lake. Others come in the fall to marvel at the magnificent display of autumn colors. A few adventurous folks are found here in the winter when the landscape is barren and peaceful solitude is all around. Springtime in the Uwharrie means abundant wildflowers and the promise of another summer filled with adventures and new discoveries. No mater the time of year the Uwharrie National Forest welcomes its visitors with a wide variety of recreational opportunities and the promise of many more rich memories and fun times in the future.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 160A Zillicoa St. Asheville, North Carolina 28801 828-257-4200 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Uwharrie 789 NC Hwy. 24/27 East Troy, North Carolina 27371 910-576-6391

Fred and Suzi Dow