Uwharrie Trail Audio Tour Now Complete! Listen to stories as you hike!
Now as you hike along the beloved Uwharrie Trail, you may come upon a newly installed “Uwharrie Trail Audio Tour” marker and wonder what it is about. If you have cell service you can click on the QR code shown and hear a short story about the historical, natural or cultural significance of the very spot to which you have hiked in the wilderness. This unique audio tour experience has been made possible thanks to the work of Life Scout Chris Moncrief, Land Trust for Central North Carolina (“LandTrust”) intern Rebecca Schoonover, trail founder Joe Moffitt, and many other Uwharrie Trail and LandTrust partners and friends.
This Uwharrie Trail Audio Tour project builds off of work done by LandTrust staff and interns to identify locations and sites of interest on the trail. The Tour consists of short stories of the natural, historical, or cultural significance of the sites highlighted. The LandTrust settled on 24 points of interest along the trail, and Chris and his team spent several long days installing markers of these points of interest over tough terrain. “We had no idea how mountainous this area was when we started this project,” Chris tells LandTrust staff. “It was a very challenging and rewarding experience.”
Chris recorded these stories in an audio format and uploaded these on a website so that they can be listened to before or during a hike of the trail for those with cell phone service. He spent more than 25 hours alone just recording the audio tours.
The LandTrust has also uploaded these audio files as zip files to their website (http://landtrustcnc.org/ut-audio-tour/) so that hikers will also have the option of downloading the stories before a hike as a podcast. This allows hikers to listen to the stories as they reach the designated sites whether or not they receive a mobile phone signal (which can prove a challenge in the remote Uwharrie Wilderness). You can also listen to the stories now at this website: http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Uwharrie+Trail+Audio+Tour/9813897
The main goal of this project was to document some of the stories and folklore of the Uwharries using the Uwharrie Trail as a thread to weave the stories together. These stories celebrate a shared natural and cultural heritage special to so many people in the region, as well as providing a sense of place to visitors. The Uwharrie Trail was created in the 1970s and historically was 53 miles long, always going through some public national forest land and some private land. The trail founder, Joe Moffitt, secured handshake agreements to create and keep the trail open; however, as time passed parcels were sold or people moved away, the trail was limited to the 20 miles on U.S. Forest Service land. Conservation partners have filled 3 of 4 gaps in the trail by land acquisition and this audio trail is also a way to document those conservation success stories.
The Uwharries are a biodiverse place with natural significance, rare communities and species. The importance of preserving the trail for historical and natural significance cannot be overstated. The Piedmont is often overlooked as a recreational and natural diversity tourism destination, but the Uwharrie area is among the most ecologically significant regions in North Carolina, and is being used increasingly for recreational purposes as “North Carolina’s Central Park.” It is located within an hour and a half’s drive from 5 million people living in the Charlotte, Triad, and Triangle metropolitan regions. Preserving this long expanse of trail gives people a wild place to get away and immerse themselves in nature, which promotes a higher quality of life and an appreciation of land and the need to preserve it.
Hopefully, the “Uwharrie Tail Audio Tour” amenity will educate visitors and locals about the cultural and biological heritage in the Uwharries, as well as inspire them to get involved with the efforts to reconnect the trail to its full length. This amenity will also enhance the attractiveness of the Uwharries as a weekend destination to neighbors in the surrounding urban corridor looking to reconnect not just with nature, but also with authentic experiences in special places.
The LandTrust is excited that trail users are now able hear the stories of unique glade communities, old firetowers, the ghosts of settler’s past, and a wide array of other interesting tales that make this landscape and community so special. Hopefully this experience will add another dimension to the unique and magical opportunities that abound in the wild Uwharrie landscape.
See more and download materials here: http://landtrustcnc.org/ut-audio-tour/