Sandhills Scenic Drive - Piedmont Scenic Drives
North Carolina’s Sandhills are a series of low rolling hills located between the Cape Fear and Pee Dee rivers. Settled by Scottish highlanders about 1740, the area was named for the coarse, sandy soil prevalent in this region. The Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in the Moore County town of Southern Pines houses the last remaining cluster of ancient long-leaf pines in this area. These pine trees covered the Sandhills until they were nearly destroyed by logging in 1895. The pines are a showcase for the preserve’s hardwood swamp forest, which also contains rare plants and animals. The former long-leaf pine forests have regenerated with the faster growing short-leaf pine.
Begin following the byway in Carthage, the Moore County seat, and take N.C. 24/27 West to Biscoe. Along the way, enjoy views of fertile farmlands and rolling hills while passing the state’s pottery center to the north and golf resort communities to the south. Founded in 1796, Carthage is located in an area settled by Scots from the Cape Fear region in the mid-18th century. After leaving Carthage, travel 1.5 miles and cross Killets Creek, which is named for an early settler who lived west of town. Soon after, cross McLendon’s Creek and continue another seven miles to the community of Garners Store, where the Pottery Road byway crosses on N.C. 705. From this crossroads, it is 14 miles to the town of Biscoe.
Incorporated in 1901, Biscoe was first known as Filo. The name was changed in 1895 to honor a local businessman. From Biscoe, travel four miles to the Little River, which flows south to join the Pee Dee River. From the bridge, continue for three miles to the town of Troy.
Troy is Montgomery County’s seat and was incorporated in 1843. It is believed that the town was named for either Robert Troy, a member of the House of Commons, or John B. Troy, an educator and member of the N.C. General Assembly. Troy is located on the eastern border of the Uwharrie National Forest, purchased by the federal government in 1934 and established as a national forest in 1961. The forest covers more than 200,000 acres in Randolph and Montgomery counties and a small portion of Davidson County.
Leave Troy on N.C. 24/27 West and travel through the Uwharrie National Forest for the next 11 miles to N.C. 73. Approaching the Pee Dee River, both Horse Trough and Shelter Mountain in the Uwharrie Mountains are visible on either side of the route. These isolated peaks have withstood erosion and weathering over thousands of years.
Also on N.C. 24/27, about eight miles past Troy, pass the trailhead for the 20-mile Uwharrie Trail. This national recreational trail follows a north/south route and passes over the Uwharrie Mountains. It is the longest hiking trail located between North Carolina’s mountains and coast.
After passing the trailhead, cross the Pee Dee River and Lake Tillery into Stanly County. Lake Tillery, to the left, is used for hydroelectric energy and as a popular recreational destination. While crossing the river, notice that Stony Mountain frames the path of the Pee Dee River’s west shore. About one mile after crossing the lake, this byway joins with the Pee Dee Valley Drive between Indian Mound Road (S.R. 1740) and Valley Drive (S.R. 1720). From Valley Drive, it is a little more than a mile to the intersection of N.C. 24/27/73 at Sweet Home Church Road (S.R. 1731) where the route ends just outside the Albemarle city limits. Albemarle is the Stanly County seat and was named for George Monck, Duke of Albemarle and a lords proprietor of the Carolina Colony in 1663.
For a side trip from Albemarle into Montgomery County (about 15 miles), take N.C. 109 or N.C. 73 South to Mount Gilead. From there, travel along N.C. 731 East to Indian Mound Road (S.R. 1542), which leads to Town Creek Indian Mound.
Length: 46 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour
Counties: Montgomery, Moore, Stanly
courtesy of NC Department of Transportation
added: September 15, 2009
updated: September 25, 2009