Uwharrie National Forest
There are more places to camp in the Uwharrie National Forest than anywhere in the North Carolina Piedmont. Designated camps are set up for hunters, horsemen, hikers and vacationers. More adventurous campers can simply stake out a place in the woods and make themselves at home. Fire rings and clearings left by previous campers are easy to find. Boaters may camp on much of the Badin Lake waterfront. Paddlers can spend the night on forest service land beside the Uwharrie River. Rangers ask folks not to camp in wildlife clearings, trails, roads or picnic areas.
Badin Lake Campground
There are 39 improved sites available at the Badin Lake Campground. The place is suitable for car camping, however, there are no hook-ups for RVs. Drive-up sites circle a wooded peninsula that extends into Badin Lake. All campers share a central toilet and communal spigots. Each site has a tent pad, picnic table and grill for cooking or campfires. All sites are shady and near the lake, easy walking for swimmers, fishers or sightseers. Generations of anglers and hikers have worn trails around the lake. This campground is packed every weekend with decent weather. For more solitude, visit during the week. People are asked to keep their fires in the grills and make no loud noise or play loud music after 10 p.m. Horses and trail bikes are not allowed in the campground.
A person can launch canoes or other portable craft here. Trailered boats must be launched a mile away at the Cove Boat ramp. The boater must run the boat across the lake to the camp while a helper returns with the tow vehicle and trailer.
Campers should watch where they walk and always carry a flashlight on warm nights. Four rattlesnakes, one with 14 rattlers, were killed in and around the campground last season. Local timber-rattlers begin breeding in May and become rather active. Watch where you place your hands and feet. Probe suspicious looking areas with a long, stout walking stick before committing your foot. Copperheads and non-poisonous reptiles also inhabit the drier parts of the forest. Eastern-banded water snakes and the larger northern water snakes are often seen around the shore of the lake on warm days. These snakes, quick to strike, are not poisonous, but should be left alone.
Tommy and Pauline Bumgardner are official volunteer campground hosts. The retired Charlotte couple park their trailer on space 16 in the spring and stay sometimes until Thanksgiving or whenever the fish stop biting. The Bumgardners enjoy looking after the place. Tommy fishes all the time and is a good source for the latest lake fishing report.
Badin Group Camp
Scout groups and the like have to reserve this area in advance by calling the ranger station. It is located on forest service road 597 just north of the Badin Lake Campground. Three groups can share central water and toilet facilities.
Uwharrie Horse Camp
This clearing beside forest service road 544 is crowded on weekends with horse trailers and campers. There is a covered wagon attitude as riders settle in with their animals to spend the night after a day of horseback riding. It is first come, first served. This campground often fills up early, but some campers simply pull their rigs off the road and set up housekeeping.
Uwharrie Hunt Camp & Morris Mountain Camp
The Uwharrie Hunt Camp is located at the main entrance to the Uwharrie National Forest off Highway 109. Shady sites and picnic tables are available for tents and RVs (no hook-ups). This campground gets crowded on the eve of opening day of deer season.
The Morris Mountain camp is more primitive, although it does have a pit toilet. It is located on the Ophir Road (SR-1303), just north of highway 109 at the Uwharrie community. Yates Place camp is similar and located on Mountain Road (SR-1146). Both camps can be reached by backpackers from the adjacent Uwharrie Trail.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication