Family Fun in the Forest
This is a sample itinerary of things to do for a two-day, one-night trip to the Uwharrie National Forest and surrounding lakes with a family!
9am - 10am
Whether from Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston Salem or Raleigh, you are basically an hour away… Or maybe you are from further east in NC but don’t want to have to drive 4 hours or more to the western NC mountains. Have no fear, the Uwharries are here! Make the first stop in the Uwharries at the Eldorado Outpost on Highway 109 www.eldoradooutpost.com for breakfast if you didn’t eat before leaving the house. Grab some ice bags for the cooler and pick up any incidentals you may have forgotten. Maybe you’ll need a few materials to pan for gold. Grab your passes for the OHV trails since you brought your ATV’s and the side by side. The outpost has it all… bug spray, tents, hammocks and a couple thousand other items!
The campsites are just down the road and plentiful to choose from near the shores of the 5,000 acre Badin Lake. They range from primitive tent camping (virtually anywhere in the Uwharries) all the way up to full service campsites with RV hook ups showers, electricity, grills and water spigots. www.recreation.gov or 877 444-6777 There are even some really nice campsites for those with horses and trailers! This weekend with the kids, we opted for tent camping near showers and bathrooms. Heck, there are even cabins and lodges right in the forest to rent for another time! www.uwharriecabins.com or 800 516-2309
11am - 1pm
We have the tents up near shower and bathroom facilities and each campsite is near drinking water, has a table, grill, lantern post, campfire ring and tent pad. We are unloading the ATV’s and side by side. The Uwharrie National Forest has 17 miles of the best off-road vehicle trails in the state and some of the best in the southeastern US! There are various terrains and obstacles making for a great time. Of course the ride isn’t complete without a picture at “Poser Rock.” Most folks get at least a couple of wheels up poser rock and stop for a quick pic.
1pm - 3pm
We are back at the campsite grabbing some lunch and chilling in our hammocks. It is amazing how cool and relaxing it is in the forest even if it is blazing hot out in the concrete jungle for the rest of the world. We are re-energized and decide it is time for some fishing. Maybe we’ll catch our own supper. Anglers may catch Bass, Bream, Crappie or catfish. After about half an hour it looks like the Mrs. and I are relaxing and fishing on the bank while the kids say they are doing their part by swimming and splashing to scare the fish our way. Hey, at least they are off the sofa, away from electronics and being active!
3pm - 4:30pm
We make our way to the Uwharrie River to pan for gold. Yes. Pan for REAL GOLD. More than 50,000 ounces of gold came out of 31 mines in the Uwharries over the years. At today’s price for gold, why not try and have fun regardless?!? You can call the Forest service at 910-576-6391 to see when they are open so you can perhaps stop in and learn a bit about panning and many other things about the great Uwharrie National Forest. Or find information about hiking and biking trails with skill levels to suit everyone. www.gorp.com/parks-guide/travel-ta-uwharrie-national-forest-hiking-sidwcmdev_066372.html And www.uwharrietrails.org/trails.cfm
4:30pm - 6:30pm
We found some great rocks, but man, the OHV trails are calling our name again. They were awesome this morning. We are grabbing a quick snack and a drink and heading back with the side by side and ATV’s for more adventure before supper.
6:30pm - 7:30pm
The kids had a blast again on the trails and keep talking about how much better it is here than the mile or so of wooded trails around our property at home. Now it is time for dinner and talking about each person’s favorite spot on the trails.
7:30pm - 8:30pm
After dinner we take a short walk back to the water to take some family pictures and to take some of the sun setting over the water. Gosh it is beautiful and peaceful out here. It reminds me that this is why I work so hard Monday through Friday so I can retire to a place like this and spend all my time in this bliss!
8:30pm - 10pm
We have a campfire and roast marsh mellows and make s’mores. We laugh about the youngest one thinking he struck it rich with gold before we explained pyrite to him. We finally call it a night.
8am - 9am
I woke up early and left with the youngest to get breakfast. Yep, we caught several bream! We cleaned ‘em, cooked ‘em and had a little fish with our sausage and eggs for the rest of the family this morning. It always tastes best when you caught it yourself.
9am - 11am
It’s back to the OHV trails for one last ride. A little bit of rain overnight only makes the trails more fun. The kids have permanent grins on their faces.
11am - 1:30pm
We grab a quick snack and then head to the water for some paddling. We pack a picnic lunch in sandwich bags and put it in a cooler along with some drinks and rent canoes for a couple of hours. Once the kids get the hang of paddling, of course it turns into some canoe racing. They find it fun, but also find rowing isn’t as easy as it looks on the Olympics! The kids spot an island and decide that is our picnic spot. We pull ashore and while we get the food out, the kids look for buried treasure… or at least more pyrite! By the way, for kayak and canoe rentals: www.uwharriehoofandpaddle.com/location.html or www.bluewayoutfitters.com What a blast rowing on Badin Lake.
The worst part of the trip is saying goodbye. It is going home… but we made great memories and found a place close by that the entire family loves. It’s not everyone at Johnnie’s baseball or Suzie’s dance competition… this is the entire family loving every minute of the great outdoors!