Uwharrie National Forest Offers Hunting, Hiking and More

From a chain of volcanoes rose the 20,000-foot-high Uwharrie Mountains, among the oldest in North America.

On Thursday, April 28, 2011 - 15:16

From a chain of volcanoes rose the 20,000-foot-high Uwharrie Mountains, among the oldest in North America. Over time, the mountains eroded to 1,000-foot hills, and today they comprise the Uwharrie National Forest, offering hiking, hunt­ing, horseback riding and much else within a two-hour drive of North Carolina's biggest cities. The forest stretches across some 51,000 acres of mixed pine hardwoods, and some 900 acres are in Davidson County, offering hiking, hunting and fishing right in this central North Carolina county. Elsewhere, the forest offers trails for horseback riding, moun­tain biking and off-highway vehicles. There is canoeing, fishing and hunting.

“Parts of it are a good, quiet get-away,” said Leigh Marston, resource officer for the U.S. Forest Service in the Uwharrie National Forest. The forest holds one of the largest concentrations of archeological sites in the Southeast. It is where the country's first gold rush occurred in 1799, at the nearby Reed Gold Mine. Gold turned up again in the Uwharries in the early 1800s, and another rush occurred during the Depression of the 1930s. T

oday, visitors still pan for gold. “They will find flakes of gold,” Marston says. “In the 1800s there were a lot of gold mines, but now it's just whatever’s left over from that mining time.” The forest may be rich with history, but it is among the newest of the national forest system. The federal government purchased the land in 1931 but didn’t proclaim it a national forest for another 30 years. Today, the Uwharrie National Forest is one of four national forests in North Carolina and the only public land in the central part of the state. Recreation here is growing, especially in the Badin Lake area along the 20-mile, Uwharrie National Recreation Trail. High Rock Lake is popular for camping, hiking, fishing, boating and hunting. The Uwharrie Forest is rich with deer and wild turkey for hunting, and it is home to bald eagles. Other nearby attractions include Town Creek Indian Mound, North Carolina Zoological Park and pottery shopping. “It used to be a well-kept secret but now, being close to the cities, it’s getting more and more discovered. People want to go to the mountains. The Uwharries are just tucked away,” Marston says. “For people who live in the larger cities … it’s not too far out of your backyard to kind of get away from the hubbub and the rat race.”