Uwharrie National Forest

Written By Jonathan Martin

One of the smallest national forests in the United States, Uwharrie National Forest encompasses over 50,000 acres in Davidson, Montgomery, and Randolph Counties. The federal government supplied the land for the park and established it in 1961. Uwharrie National Forest remains the youngest national park in North Carolina. It was purchased by the federal government in 1931 and was initially named the Uwharrie Reservation.

Legend says that both the park and the mountains of Uwharrie are named after the Indian tribe that once lived in the region. The Uwharrie Mountains are low peaks that were once thought to be ocean floor volcanoes. Most of the mountains rise only 1,000 feet high, but the park’s most prominent mountain, Morrow Mountain, has a distinct peak.

Uwharrie’s Piedmont forest flora differs from coastal and mountain parks because of the different flora of the area. According to historian William S. Powell, Uwharrie National Forest remains “a sanctuary of hardwoods, pines, and rocks.” Some of the rocks rise to heights above ten feet. For instance, the Nifty Rocks reach heights of fifteen feet. Unlike other national forests, Uwharrie is split into separate sections because some private owners kept title to their land when the government bought land for the park.

Many tourists and outdoor enthusiasts visit the Uwharrie National Forest to take advantage of the park’s numerous resources. The Uwharrie National Recreation Trail is open to hikers while the Badin Lake Recreation Area provides a campsite and picnic area. A large 13,000-acre hunting ground, the Uwharrie Wildlife Management Area, attracts deer hunters during the season. Badin Lake, Lake Tillery, and the Uwharrie, Yadkin, and Pee Dee Rivers draw in fishers and water sports enthusiasts during the summer months.

Uwharrie’s Ranger District Office, which manages the day-to-day operations of the park, is located in Troy, North Carolina. The office provides information for campers, passes for hikers, and permits for fishing, trapping, and hunting. In addition, Uwharrie allows motorized boats and ATV riding at select campsites.