Uwharrie National Recreation Trail

Nestled in the heart of the Piedmont is the ancient Uwharrie Mountain Range and 51,000 acres of national forest. And nestled in the heart of the forest is the 22.9-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail.

It’s a nice arrangement, this nesting of a long trail inside the Uwharrie National Forest. It accommodates long stretches of hiking with minimal exposure to civilization, long stretches that include the occasional reminder that millions of years back the Uwharries were a mighty range with peaks topping 20,000 feet. None top 1,000 today, but for the Piedmont you’ll find some impressive climbs.

Three miles in from the southern trailhead, for instance, you’ll find yourself huffing up 719-foot Dennis Mountain, first through a familiar oak-hickory forest, higher up through one dominated by chestnut oaks. Then at the very top a narrow passage through short-needled Virginia pine and a mountain meadow. It’s a pattern that repeats throughout much of the trail.

There are various ways to shorten this hike or run: Three roads — SR 1146, SR 1134 and NC 109 — cross the trail, making for convenient shuttle stops. There are also numerous primitive campsites along the way, and sufficient water to make backpacking a possibility.

Hunting is permitted throughout, be especially alert hiking in the fall.

More info: Uwharrie National Forest

Maps: Downloadable here, also available at U.S. National Forest Service in Troy and at many outfitters.

Getting there from downtown Charlotte
Difficulty: moderate to strenuous (depending upon length)
Distance: 1 hour 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte to the southern trailhead
Time to complete: one hour to two days (hike) 1 to 6 hours (trail run – depending on how much you bite off)
Address: Midway between Albemarle and Troy on NC 24/27
City: Troy
State: N.C.
Zip: 27371
Latitude: 35.1905
Longitude: 79.5906