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Uwharrie National Forest Camping Guide

Welcome to Uwharrie National Forest, one of North Carolina’s most stunning hidden treasures! While Uwharrie is North Carolina’s smallest national forest, it’s the perfect camping destination with incredible scenery and a myriad of recreational opportunities that are not to be missed.

Looking to plan a trip? Here’s everything you need to know about Uwharrie National Forest Camping!

Uwharrie National Forest Camping

What to Expect in Uwharrie National Forest

You will need a firewood permit if you plan on gathering firewood from the forest itself, and you are not allowed to cut trees down yourself. You must only harvest firewood from trees that have already fallen.

Otherwise, if you’re coming from another state, you will need to purchase firewood locally. You are not allowed to bring firewood from outside of North Carolina to Uwharrie National Forest to burn.

Camping in Uwharrie National Forest

What To Consider Before Booking

Before camping in Uwharrie National Forest, you’ll want to be sure you obtain the proper permits for the activities you want to do. We’ll go over these later on.

You’ll also want to be aware of the fire danger in the forest before you set up camp. Be sure you’re prepared in case of a fire emergency.

Make sure you have a map of the area you plan to camp in if possible. Make sure you and your family have a plan in place if an evacuation becomes necessary.

Best Seasons to Visit

The best season for camping in Uwharrie National Forest is mid-autumn. The entire forest lights up with an array of vivid fall colors you simply can’t miss.

North Carolina autumns often boast pleasant weather. Though it can get a bit chilly at night, if you bring an extra blanket or two along, you’ll be just fine. It’s not especially rainy, though you may want to bring rain gear just in case.

Late spring and early summer are also good times to visit, though you’ll miss out on the fall colors. Avoid winter, as the weather gets wetter and colder—not a pleasant combination for a Uwharrie National Forest camping trip!

Best Spots for RV Camping

Arrowhead Campground is the best place for RV camping in Uwharrie National Forest. There is a dump station in this campground, as well as options for electric hookup. This is also considered an accessible campground, which means it’s accessible for campers with disabilities.

Best Spots for Group Camping

The Badin Lake Group Camp is the best place for group camping in Uwharrie National Forest. This camp can accommodate up to 50 people at any of its three sites. There is a bathhouse with showers available, as well as flush and vault toilets.

Best Spots for Remote Camping

Remote or “dispersed” camping is allowed anywhere in the Uwharrie National Forest that isn’t contained within developed campgrounds or wildlife areas.

uwharrie national forest camping

Things to Do


The famed Appalachian Trail runs through the Uwharrie National Forest! If this particular trail is on your hiking bucket list (and it should be) this is a great opportunity to cross it off

Horseback Riding

While the Appalachian Trail does not permit horses, there are plenty of other trails you can traverse on horseback!

When camping in Uwharrie National Forest, if you wish to bring your horse along, you’re in luck. There are two horse camps in Uwharrie: Canebrake Horse Camp and Badin Horse Camp.

There is also an overflow camp located close to Canebreak, though it’s not nearly as well-outfitted as Canebreak itself. If you want to be certain that you’re allowed to ride your horse on the trails, stick to the Badin Lake trails.

Fishing and Hunting

Both fishing and hunting are allowed in Uwharrie National Forest, but you will need licenses for both.

You will also want to bring along your own gear. Otherwise, you will have to purchase fishing supplies at the local general store, Eldorado Outpost.

Hunting gear may be available at the general store, but there’s no guarantee they will have what you prefer to use. Your best bet is to bring your own supplies.

Recreational Shooting

Recreational shooting is another activity you can take part in on your Uwharrie National Forest camping trip.

Flintlock Valley Shooting Range offers both pistol and rifle shooting ranges. This is a great place for you to practice your shooting if you’re not the hunting type. It’s also a good choice if you’re a hunting enthusiast visiting outside of hunting season. It still gives you the chance to sharpen your skills in the meantime!

You will need to bring along your own ear and eye protection, as well as your own shooting targets. Only certain types of targets (cardboard and paper) are allowed.

You will also need to acquire a permit in order to shoot at the range. These permits must be purchased before arrival, but they are not available online. In order to acquire a permit to shoot at Flintlock Valley, you’ll need to visit either Uwharrie National Forest Office, Troy Welcome Center, or Eldorado Outpost!

You can pay for access to the range for a day at a time, or you can purchase a year-long pass if you plan to visit multiple times throughout the year! However, this will only save you money if you plan on visiting six or more times in a year.

uwharrie national forest  camping


Plant Life

When we think of endangered species, we often think of animals; however, plants can become endangered species, too! Uwharrie National Forest is home to the Schweinitz’s sunflower, an endangered flower species.

They are mainly spotted along the borders of roads, and when they’re found, they’re carefully relocated to safer areas. If you’re lucky enough to spot some of these rare flowers, give them a wide berth! Under no circumstances should you pick any of the blooms.


One creature you definitely need to be aware of when camping in Uwharrie National Forest is the black bear. Black bear run-ins have been increasing lately in North Carolina’s national forests, so it’s important to practice bear safety at all times, particularly when camping away from established campgrounds.

One way to practice proactive bear safety is by investing in bear-proof food storage containers. While Uwharrie isn’t the most densely populated by bears out of North Carolina’s forests, it’s still important to be vigilant.


Another thing to keep an eye out for on your Uwharrie National Forest camping trip? Bigfoot!

Okay, okay, not really—although there was a horror movie made back in 2012 that suggested this national forest was in fact home to the elusive furry fiend. Titled “Uwharrie,” if you’re a fan of shaky cam/found footage horror, you can bring this along to watch on your trip…if you dare.

All jokes aside, there have been many Bigfoot sightings reported in this particular national forest. Whether it’s Bigfoot or a particularly large black bear…well. That’s for you to discover!


You can expect to find largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, and several more types of fish on the end of your line when camping in Uwharrie National Forest!

uwharrie national forest camping

Make Sure To Bring

When you head out for your Uwharrie National Forest camping trip, be sure to bring along:

  • Fishing and hunting gear
  • Sunscreen
  • Bear-proof food storage, particularly if you plan to camp or hike along the Appalachian Trail
  • All required permits and licenses
  • Bug spray
  • Cardboard or paper targets if you plan to take part in recreational shooting, as well as shooting safety glasses and ear protection
  • Good-quality hiking boots
  • Extra blankets if staying in the fall or winter

Off to Uwharrie!

Whether you’re on the hunt for your next favorite hike or trying to prove a certain cryptid’s existence, Uwharrie National Forest camping is an adventure and a half!

If you’re looking for more national forests to add to your camping plans, take a look at our national forest camping guides now!