by Crystal Cockman
March 15, 2017
The past couple of weekends, I’ve hiked two loop trails, which means they follow a circle and so you don’t have to do any backtracking. One of these trails is in the Birkhead Wilderness Area, and the other is in the Badin Recreational Area. They are very different trails but equally enjoyable to hike.
The trail in the Birkheads starts at the Robbins Branch Trailhead on Lassiter Mill Road. The bridge is out just south of the trailhead, so if you’re coming from Troy, you’ll have to go a few extra miles up to Highway 49 and come back down to the trailhead. The total length of the hike is about 6.7 miles. You start out on the Robbins Branch Trail, which goes by a nice upland ephemeral pool where some salamanders are likely hanging out. It joins the Birkhead Trail after a big climb.
The Birkhead Trail runs north to south, and you walk along the ridgeline for a good portion of the way. The trail is fairly covered in leaves in some places, such that you have to shuffle through them. That trail ties into the Hannah’s Creek Trail. There used to be an old chimney standing on the side of this trail, but not too long ago it fell down and is now just a chimney pile.
We didn’t see or hear very much wildlife on the trails in the Birkheads, but the weather was perfect. I’m sure when spring arrives, there will be a plethora of songbirds singing in the forest canopy. There weren’t too many other hikers on the trail either, thought we did run into a few squirrel hunters. This is a good loop of a length enough to know you’ve hiked a good hike. I was ready for lunch when we were done.
The second loop hike was the Badin Lake Trail in the Badin Recreational Area. This area is full of horse trail and OHV trails, but this is the only hiking only trail in the entire Badin Recreational Area, which is about 8,000 acres. We started at Kings Mountain Point, but you can also start at Arrowhead campground. This trail follows the lake for the majority of the time, so the elevation gain and loss is pretty minimal.
We saw a lot more hikers, especially people out with their dogs. At one point near the end you cross some exposed bedrock, and that’s a neat area. The trail comes close to the lake in a lot of places, so you have to really watch your step. The views are pretty spectacular though. We also saw a good number of people fishing on boats on Badin Lake. The recent great weather we’ve had has really brought people outdoors. Hopefully it will continue and we’ll have more opportunities to explore some more great trails in the Uwharries.