What started as one man’s vision 40 years ago, is now closer to completion than it has been since, and volunteers from near and far are joining together to see it achieved. Joe Moffitt tells how the idea for the Uwharrie Trail came about when his Boy Scout troop was driving up to the southern Appalachians for their 50 mile hike and getting lost in those unfamiliar woods. The son of a trapper himself, he knew the woods and streams of the Uwharries like the back of his hand, and his community connection meant he could procure the necessary handshake agreements to start a 50 mile trail right here – and the Uwharrie Trail was born.
In the past 20 years many sections of the original trail on private land have closed as property was sold or left to heirs who no longer live here. Thanks to the joint efforts of The LandTrust, the NC Zoo, the US Forest Service, and many others, several of the gaps in the trail have now been filled, making the permanent public ownership of the trail in those sections a reality. The LandTrust purchased Little Long Mountain with loans last year, and has begun building the new trail through that property. Trail workdays have already begun and will continue to take place on the second Saturdays of February, March, April, May, and June (please visit www.landtrustcnc.org to learn how you can help).
Thanks to the partnership of the NC Zoo and the NC Zoo Society, another new Uwharrie Trail tract has been secured: the McArthur Property, a 45-acre tract with frontage on High Pine Church Road. This critical property was for sale and the Zoo – through its nonprofit arm the NC Zoo Society – was able to use funds from a bequest to secure it. This unique property has frontage on High Pine Church Road that will allow for development of a new trailhead and small parking area, while also providing landscape-scale views. This property adds another 4 miles north from Thayer Road over King Mountain and the Walkers Creek area of the national forest, bringing the length of the contiguous trail to nearly 30 miles. The goal for this project is to transfer this property to the US Forest Service (USFS) as a land exchange, with the Zoo acquiring from USFS a portion of a property outside of their proclamation boundary but in the immediate viewshed of the entrance to the Zoo. Thanks so much to the Zoo for making this project possible and enabling this next section of the Uwharrie Trail to be realized!
A special thanks to David Craft for providing option funds for the property, and to David Craft and David Gardener for hosting and organizing trail workdays. Funds for trail layout and establishment were provided through the NC Adopt-A-Trail Grant Program.