Explore Birkhead Mountains Wilderness in Uwharrie National Forest

Outdoor NC has partnered with local tourism organizations across the state to help promote the protection of North Carolina’s stunning and diverse outdoor spaces by practicing the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace. Here are some insider tips if you're visiting the Asheboro area.

Q&A host: Heart of NC Visitors Bureau
Outdoor passion: Hiking
Where in NC: Uwharrie National Forest/Birkhead Mountains Wilderness near Asheboro

Best places in the Asheboro area to spend outdoors? 

Birkhead Mountains Wilderness in Uwharrie National Forest and the 40-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail.

Best season to spend in NC?

Spring and fall. Temperatures are optimal, and the scenery is gorgeous. Springtime showcases blooming flowers and trees, and our fall colors compete highly with our mountainous regions of North Carolina.

What level of experience is needed for outdoor activities in Uwharrie National Forest?

Easy to difficult.

How long should you plan on visiting?

Up to three days or more to explore the entire area.

What attracted you to North Carolina or the Asheboro area?

Uwharrie National Forest plus the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness and 40-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail. It features beautiful and intact forest, babbling streams, large rock formations and well-maintained natural surface trails for a wilderness experience. And it's just a 1.5-hour drive from the Triangle and Charlotte areas.

What is unique about the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness and Uwharrie National Forest?

Birkhead Mountains Wilderness is the only designated wilderness area in the North Carolina Piedmont, and the 40-mile Uwharrie National Recreation Trail is the longest natural surface trail in the Piedmont. Opportunities to participate in four-day thru hikes, long-distance trail runs and off-trail explorations are endless. The beautiful hardwood forest trails were built by Boy Scouts in the 1970s and feature scenic stream crossings, large rock outcrops and primitive campsites.

How do you plan or prepare for your outdoor activities?

Download a map of the Uwharrie National Forest/Birkhead Mountains Wilderness, use Piedmont Legacy Trails or consult Uwharrie Lakes Region Trail Guide by Don Childrey. Pick out the trailhead, length of hike and destination. Trailheads/parking areas are Tot Hill Farm, Thornburg, Robbins Branch, Walker's Creek, Joe Moffit and Luther Place. 

Favorites are: 

  • Birkhead Mountains Trail to Camp 3 starting at Tot Hill Farm Trailhead – 7-mile loop 
  • Robbins Branch/Hannah’s Creek starting at Robbins Branch Trailhead – 7-mile loop 
  • Walker’s Creek Trail starting at Walker’s Creek Trailhead – 5-mile round trip 
  • Luther’s Place Trailhead to King Mountain to Joe Moffitt Trailhead – 3 miles one way 
  • Thornburg Trailhead to Robbins Branch Trailhead – 2.3 miles one way 

What piece of gear is your must-have? 

A good pair of hiking boots, backpack, plenty of water and snacks/food. Bring camping gear if camping out.

How do you practice the Leave No Trace principles?  

Tote along reusable drinkware, pack out all trash, and dogs can be unleashed but must always be under control of owner.

Best places for breakfast/lunch or dinner? 

Dine locally for breakfast or lunch at Heritage Diner (on the first floor of the American Classic Motorcycle Museum), before or after you hike. Enjoy dinner in downtown Asheboro with options of The Flying Pig Food & Spirits, Magnolia 23, Hamilton's Steakhouse, Positano, The Table bakery, The Taco Loco, Hop's Bar-B-Q or Times Square Pizza; check out Lumina Wine and Beer or Four Saints Brewing Company (it sometimes hosts food trucks, live music or fun themed trivia).

Where do you like to go after a hike? 

For a cool retreat try Pelican's Snoballs, Creative Creamery (for an out-of-this-world sundae) or Arbol Mexican Ice Cream for a fruity frozen treat. For pastries or baked goods instead, try Glaze King Donuts, Central Bakery or The Table. You will not be disappointed by any of these choices!

Cool places to stay near Uwharrie National Forest? 

Looking for a cozy bed & breakfast? The Duck Smith House welcomes you to nearby Seagrove – home to the renowned pottery community. Family-friendly and affordable hotel accommodations can also be found along Highway 64. If you would like to stay in nature, consider a stay at Getaway Asheboro cabins, which neighbors the North Carolina Zoo (so close you can hear the lions roar!).

Other sites in the area to see while in town? 

Pisgah Covered Bridge – it’s one of only two in the state; NC Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame; North Carolina Zoo; American Classic Motorcycle Museum; Downtown Asheboro walking tour of antique shops and artwork.

What is your can't-miss experience near Asheboro? 

The North Carolina Zoo is great for additional outdoor adventures. With more than 5 miles of walking trails, the zoo is home to 1,800 animals from Africa and North America, with expansions coming soon. Plus, there are additional nature hiking trails on-site at the zoo.

Insider tip! 

Grab quick snacks to go from The Table in downtown Asheboro – wonderful granola mixes, conveniently bagged for your hike.

This article was produced in partnership with the Heart of NC Visitors Bureau. Visit Outdoor NC for additional tips on how to connect with nature and help preserve the natural beauty of our state.

Updated March 14, 2023
Top of Page