We recently took a scouting trip to Uwharrie National Forest to learn the layout and enjoy a beautiful autumn day.
Named for the Uwharrie Mountains and acquired by the government during the Great Depression, Uwharrie is one of four national forests in North Carolina. It's situated in the Piedmont, south of Asheboro and west of the North Carolina Zoo. Tucked in a curve on the forest's western boundary is Morrow Mountain State Park.
Our GPS led us to a completely useless spot just inside the eastern edge of the forest, near what appeared to be a charming town named Troy. After consulting the Gazetteer, we headed north on 109, but stopped at a parking lot several miles up the road. This turned out to be one of three trailheads for the 20.5 Uwharrie Trail, which cuts a swath across the forest.
Caught! Your host:
Trail near the creek:
Strawberry bush known as Hearts-a-Bursting:
On the subject of flowers, we spotted the following species of sunflower growing alongside the road. Did we find the endangered Schweitzer's Sunflower, known to grow in the Uwharrie Forest, or one of its cousins?
We finished our hike, but instead of backtracking through Troy, we headed north on 109 to NC 49, one of North Carolina's official scenic drives, and soon found more destinations to explore.
Last year, one of my Sylvan Heights posts caught the attention of the NC Zoo director. He not only invited us to the zoo, he suggested we check out Birkhead Wilderness, located in the northern region of the Uwharrie National Forest. Our zoo trip is a bit overdue thanks to unexpected travel and 100+ temperatures this past summer, but on this trip, we spotted the turnoff for the 5,100 acre Birkhead Wilderness. So many trails, too little time! We put it on the growing lists of places to visit, and continued on, but made a quick turn when we saw the sign for Pisgah Covered Bridge.
A member of our hiking group first told us about this historic structure. Several sources state the Pisgah Covered Bridge is only one of two covered bridges left in North Carolina. Once badly damaged, the bridge was refurbished thanks to efforts initiated by the NC Zoo and Zoo Society. Today, visitors can picnic near the creek or stroll along the hiking trail in what we found to be a picturesque setting.
A must see if you're in the area.
There are several trails to explore in Uwharrie National Forest, Birkhead Wilderness, and nearby Morrow Mountain State Park, and that's not even counting the hike through the NC Zoo. In short, there's plenty to do in the Asheboro area.
And I once called the Piedmont the land between me and the mountains? I stand corrected.
So back we'll go, and soon. Not to explore more of Uwharrie's interior, not yet anyway. We're finally taking that overdue trip to the zoo. But we won't be alone. Accompanying us on the excursion will be a group of siblings who have fast grown dear to our hearts. More soon.
For more information on Uwharrie Forest, activities and trails, go to www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/recreation/uwharrie/index.htm
For more information on Morrow Mountain State Park, go to