The mountains in Western North Carolina are some of the most beautiful in the world–in any season, but especially in the fall. But you don’t have to travel to the west to experience the mountains.
The Uwharrie Mountains are a mountain range that spans Randolph, Montgomery, Stanly, and Davidson County. The foothills start in Cabarrus County.
You can think of the Uwharrie Mountains as the Blue Ridge Mountains’ smaller sibling — the highest point is High Rock Mountain’s 1,188 feet, as opposed to the highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountains (and all of the Appalachian Mountains) — Mount Mitchell’s 6,684 feet.
It’s such an easy day trip from Charlotte to the Uwharrie Mountains, just a little over an hour’s drive, that you can easily get your mountain fix on the spur of the moment, without a lot of planning.
Make sure to allow time to pull over and enjoy some of the amazing scenery along the way, like this spot on NC-109 at Reservation Road.
Some spots have road markers indicating a particularly beautiful scenic lookouts. This picture was taken from a Scenic Lookout onto Badin Lake from NC-49.
We’ve put together a list of some of the attractions you should visit during your trip. You won’t be able to do all of these in one day, but you can do most of them in a day, and can definitely cover all of them in two days, whether that includes an overnight or just two day trips.
Please keep reading for a description of five places to visit in the Uwharrie Mountain region, as well as a Google map to help you put them into perspective.
Uwharrie National Forest
Uwharrie National Forest’s 52,000 acres, which span Montgomery, Randolph and Davidson County, provide a setting for a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, camping, boating, picnicking, swimming and more.
There are several access points into Uwharrie National Forest. One that’s just an hour from Charlotte is the Wood Run Trailhead, on NC-24, but you’ll want to consult the forest’s maps to make sure that you’re choosing the right access point for the activities that you want to take part in.
The Ranger District Office, at 789 Biscoe Road, Troy, has maps available.
Morrow Mountain State Park
Morrow Mountain State Park, at 49104 Morrow Mountain Road, Albemarle, features hiking, camping, paddling, fishing, horseback riding, and swimming, but perhaps the most popular thing to do there is to drive up Morrow Mountain Road to take in the stunning vista.
On the top there’s a large wooden deck where you can relax (and take pictures.)
Also on top of the mountain is a grassy area with picnic tables, with lots of space to stretch your legs and enjoy a snack.
Town Creek Indian Mound
Town Creek Indian Mound, at 509 Town Creek Mound Road, Mt. Gilead, is a significant historic site that offers archaeologists a growing understanding of the “Pee Dee” Indian culture.
A visit to Town Creek Indian Mound offers a glimpse of early life in the Piedmont. There’s a visit center with interpretive exhibits, which will help you understand the rebuilt structures and the mound as you go on a free self-guided tour.
North Carolina Zoo
The North Carolina Zoo, at 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro, is the world’s largest natural habitat zoo, on 2,600 wooded acres. Animals have plenty of room to roam and to be themselves.
The zoo has two sections that each focus on one continent: North America (bears, bison, wolves…) and Africa (lions, chimpanzees, lemurs, elephants, gorillas…)
Timed tickets are required. They’re $15 per person age 13 to 61, $13 for seniors (age 62+), $11 for children age 2-12,and free for children under the age of 2. (Children under 2 still need a ticket, even though it’s free for them.)
Badin Road Drive-In Theater
If you’re in the area on a weekend evening from March to October, go see a movie at Badin Road Drive-In Theater, 2411 Badin Road, Albemarle. Badin Road Drive-In Theater is one of the few permanent drive-ins in North Carolina. Prices are $7 per person age 12 and up, $5 per child age 6-11, and free for children 5 and under. (Prices subject to change.)
You’ll find more up to date information on their Facebook page than their website.