Birkhead Mountains Wilderness

Area Status: Open
Brochure Map for the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness

The Birkhead Mountains Wilderness was established by the 1984 North Carolina Wilderness Act. The goals are to protect and preserve its natural resources and wilderness character and provide for public use. The Wilderness includes 5,160 acres at the northern end of the Uwharrie Mountains.

These mountains are considered to be the oldest on the North American Continent. Evidence of early Indians dates back over 12,000 years. The Catawba Indians  inhabited the area when the Europeans began exploring the region in the late 1600’s. By 1760 settlement had begun in earnest, opened up by the explorers and traders along the Ocaneechi Trail.

The Birkhead family raised a son, John Watson (Watt), who was born in 1858. The 3,000 acres that he acquired over the years were made up of many small tenant farms. Thus the mountain range became known locally as the Birkhead Mountains.

This old plantation is the core of the Wilderness. Remember, as you use the Wilderness, your challenge is to leave no trace of your passing. This will protect and preserve the area as true wilderness. Evidence of early Indians and settlers can often be found. These archeological and historic artifacts and sites hold clues to America's past. If disturbed , a part of our heritage is lost forever. Federal law protects such sites and artifacts on public land. If you discover such remains please leave them undisturbed.

All trails within the Wilderness are designated hiking trails. Travel by horse, motorized vehicle or bicycle is prohibited. A detailed map of the Wilderness is available at the District Ranger’s Office.

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Birkhead Mountains Wilderness is open year round.
Reservations: No reservations needed.
Fees: No fee at this area.
Usage: Heavy

General Information


From Troy, NC take Hwy. 109 North to the community of Uwharrie and turn right onto Ophir Road (SR 1134). Ophir Road becomes Burney Mill Road as you cross into Randolph County. Continue on to the intersection of Lassiter Mill Road and turn right. Proceed north on Lassiter Mill to either of the trailhead locations as depicted on the map.

From Asheboro, NC take Hwy. 49 South approximately 6 miles. Turn right onto Science Hill Road. About a fourth of a mile further, at the "T" intersection, turn left (south) onto Lassiter Mill Road. Continue on to the two trailhead locations as depicted on the map.

General Notes:

Disperse camping is allowed in the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness. Camp at least 200 feet from all streams, creeks, roads and wildlife fields. When using fire rings, please disperse the ring before leaving camp. Use of cook stoves is highly recommended. Firewood is available as dead and down in the forest, please do not cut live trees for firewood. Also hunting is allowed in this area, orange would be advisable to wear during the hunting seasons, when hiking the trails.

Please pack all trash out with you when you leave. No mountain bikes or ATV's are allowed within the Wilderness area.

No permenant camps are allowed in the Wilderness area. Camping is allowed for a 14 day period with in a 30 day time frame. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash and kept under control.

Uwharrie Ranger District
789 Biscoe Road
Troy, NC 27371
(910) 576-6391


Parking is available at Tot Hill Trailhead, Thornburg Trailhead and Robbins Branch Trailhead.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Recreation areas with activity Day Hiking:


Recreation areas with activity Backpacking:

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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