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Hiking North Carolina: Exploring the Birkheard Wilderness Area of Uwharrie National Forest

January 21, 2016

Weekends are meant for exploring. And we’ve been searching for places to explore near our new home of Charlotte, North Carolina. A big issue we’ve been running into is running into too many people while we’re trying to get back to nature.

One thing we savored about Alaska was that, even though the trailheads were only 15 minutes from town, you could find trails and have solo hikes for miles. Our luck in North Carolina hasn’t been so good. Crowder’s Mountain is nicknamed Crowded Mountain, and South Mountains State Park had so many people that we didn’t dare let our pups run off leash (much to their dismay).

But, I think we finally found a place where we can get some one-on-one time with Mother Nature.

The Birkhead Wilderness Area in located in Uwharrie National Forest, only about an hours drive from Charlotte. We spent Sunday checking out the Robbin’s Branch Trail, the Hannah’s Creek Trail, and the Birkhead Mountain Trail. Several hours of wandering and 10 miles explored, we didn’t see another (living) soul while we wandered the woods, crossed through creeks, and checked out old Indian Burial Mounds.

Trailhead

MooseOnARock

CrossingCreeks

A really cool thing is that the area was originally inhabited by Catawba Indians (Matt’s tribe), so he had me on the lookout for arrowheads while we wandered. I found none, so clearly my lost-and-found skills are lacking.

RoadMap

TrailBlaze

MattCrossCreek

It would also be a great place to go outside and practice orienteering and compass reading. The trails aren’t well travelled, and some need to be remarked, making it the perfect place to practice skills!

wildlife

I’m told that in the summer, the area doesn’t offer the same isolation so if you’re looking for some alone time, off-season is our recommendation. The area is also prime for backpacking, so if you’re looking for easy and relatively flat trails to do backpacking test-runs, I highly recommend it. Camp at least 200 feet from all streams, creeks, roads and wildlife fields.

Please please please make sure to Leave no Trace whenever you’re exploring any wilderness area. I always hate when I see food bar wrappers, water bottles, and bagged deer guts (SERIOUSLY) in parking areas and along trails. There aren’t many untouched areas left in America, so we should want to preserve what we have. Let’s have places for aimless wandering, not ‘hikes’ with stairs and covered in litter.

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