Camping In North Carolina's Piedmont
North Carolina’s central region is home to our largest urban areas and most luxurious accommodations. But you’ll also find plenty of places to camp far away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Let’s explore some of these natural gems.
A wizened volcanic mountain range known as the Uwharries offers a rural respite for travelers to the Charlotte area. When they emerged, the peaks soared up to 20,000 feet. Thanks to erosion, you are lucky to find one 1,000 feet high today. Humans have come here for centuries to take advantage of the natural resources like the volcanic rock used by Paleo-Indians from which they crafted tools more than 12,000 years ago. Gold was a more recent lure. The first recorded discovery of gold in America occurred nearby in 1799.
In the Uwharrie National Forest, there are more camping areas than any other central North Carolina area. Park rangers have designated special areas for hunters, horsemen, hikers and Scout groups. Primitive tent camping in the Birkhead Wilderness and RV camping in nicely appointed private campgrounds are available, as are boat camping on Badin Lake and canoe camping along the Uwharrie River. A favorite among deer hunters is Uwharrie Hunt Camp, located off Highway 109 at the main entrance to the Uwharrie National Forest. Tent and RV sites are available but there are no hook-ups. Arrive early if you plan to go during deer season.
Morrow Mountain State Park makes a great base camp for families wanting to explore the Uwharries. You can backpack about two miles from the park office into the woods for primitive camping in a wilderness setting. And the park also offers 106 family camping sites for tents or RVs, as well as group camping and six rustic vacation cabins that may be rented. Shower and restroom facilities are located near the family campsites. Anglers will find game fish that include largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, crappie, perch, bluegill and catfish. Canoes and small boats may be rented in the park, too.
Another central North Carolina gem is Hanging Rock State Park near the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area. Camping facilities at Hanging Rock are similar to Morrow Mountain’s. There are 73 tent and trailer sites with access to drinking water and washhouses with laundry sinks and showers. Each site has a picnic table, grill and pad. Eight group sites and six rustic cabins are available. The cabins each have two bedrooms, a kitchen and living room. More than 18 miles of trails snake through this park, passing by waterfalls, cascades, caves and rocky cliffs. Hikers are rewarded with great views of rolling hills to the east and Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. Serious outdoors enthusiasts may want to try their rock climbing skills on Cook’s Wall or Moore’s Wall. This series of cliffs reaches up to 400 feet and offers both novices and skilled climbers some challenges. After a hot day of rappelling, slide by the 12-acre lake for a cool dip.
Our final stop is Raven Rock State Park, about 20 miles north of Fayetteville on the Cape Fear River. Once a rocky roost for hundreds of ravens, the park’s namesake stood as an important landmark for river pilots in the 1800s. Today you can emulate the Tuscarora Indians, who often camped, canoed and fished in what is now the park. There are six canoe campsites along the Cape Fear Canoe Trail. Primitive facilities are available at these sites, which are not accessible by vehicle. Canoeists can call the park to reserve these popular campsites. Run rapids at Lanier Falls and the Fish Traps as you travel the 56-mile long Cape Fear Canoe Trail. Backpack, family and group campsites are also available in the park. Plenty of game fish can be found in the Cape Fear River at the Fish Traps and the mouth of Campbell Creek. Largemouth bass, warmouth, bluegill, catfish, redear and green sunfish are most prevalent.
So, the next time you want to get away, but not too far away, escape to one of these central North Carolina gems.
added: December 28, 2008
updated: December 31, 2008
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