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U.S. Forest Service

Southern Region Viewing Area


Uwharrie River Trail Map. Location map (PDF, 3.7 MB)

Delphium tricorne. Delphium tricorne. Photo by Gary Kauffman.

Sanguinaria canadensis. Sanguinaria canadensis. Photo by Gary Kauffman.

Trillium cuneatum. Trillium cuneatum. Photo by Bill Lea.

Arisaema triphyllum. Arisaema triphyllum. Photo by Gary Kauffman.

Pawpaw. Pawpaw, Asimina triloba. Photo by Gary Kauffman.

Uwharrie River Trail

Forest: Uwharrie National Forest, National Forests in North Carolina

District: Uwharrie Ranger District

Description: Uwharrie River Trails traverses a unique Basic Mesic Forest paralleling the meandering Uhwarrie River and on the steeper east-facing slopes. The forest is dominated by red oak (Quercus rubra), beech (Fagus grandifolia), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), river birch (Betula nigra), black walnut (Juglans nigra), hop-hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana), and southern sugar maple (Acer floridanum).

A narrow floodplain forest occurs along along the flattest portion of the trail. Although similar in overstory composition to the previous forest it is dominated by sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). A rocky bar and shore community is developed in accumulated gravel bars along the Uwharrie River. Partially submerged water willow (Justicia americana) and black willow (Salix nigra) dominate this narrowly confined community.

Wildflower viewing: During the spring, mid-March to early May, the greatest profusion of wildflowers is present in the area. Trout lily (Erythronium americanum), dwarf larkspur (Delphinium tricorne), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), purple toadshade (Trillium cuneatum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), wild comfrey (Cynoglossum virginianum), round-lobed liverleaf (Anemone americana), lanceleaf anemone (Anemone lancifolia), wide-leaved spiderwort (Tradescantia subaspera), mayapple (Podophllyum peltatum), and spring-beauty (Claytonia virginiana) are prolific amongst the green foliage of maiden-hair fern, various sedges, and bottle brush grass (Elymus hystrix) with its distinctive fruits, which form in mid to late summer.

Redbud (Cercis canadensis), painted buckeye (Aesculus sylvatica) and pawpaw (Asimina triloba), two attractive flowering small trees are common within the basic mesic forest. An unusual herbaceous legume, forest pea (Lathyrus venosus), is present within the broader floodplain portion of the riparian forest.

Other unusual plants include dissected toothwort (Cardamine dissecta) and heartleaf tick-trefoil (Hylodesmum glutinosum). Water willow, with its lavender flowers occurs along wider stretches of the Uwharrie in sand bars, typically blooming in the summertime. Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) and buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) are two highly visible bright blooming shrubs within this community.

Safety First: The Uwharrie National Forest receives moderately high recreational use throughout the summer, and traffic along the forest roads can be heavy, especially near developed facilities. Weather in the Piedmont is mild in the spring, but can be quite hot (exceeding 90 degrees) and muggy in the summer and early fall. While the area does not experience as much rainfall as the mountains to the west, an unexpected rain shower can quickly result in the summer afternoon. Chiggers and ticks are often present in the summer and fall. Please take necessary precautions while hiking outdoors. Adequate rain gear, water, and bug control is recommended.

Directions: From Troy, North Carolina, take state highway 109 north for approximately 9.3 miles. Just north of the Uwharrie River bridge crossing, turn left on state route 1153, and drive 0.4 miles taking a right on forest service road 576. Follow for 0.2 miles taking a left there on to Cotton Place Road (# 555). Follow 555 for approximately 1.0 miles to the Uwharrie River trail. The trailhead is on the left (see attached map). There are no facilities at the trailhead.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Uwharrie National Forest, Uwharrie Ranger District.

Nearest Town Uwharrie or El Dorado, North Carolina (two unincorporated towns 2.5 south and 3.5 miles north, respectively).