Beyond the Triad's Parameters
The Triadthe three cities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Pointhas witnessed its share of pivotal moments in U.S. history. In 1781, Guildford Courthouse was the site of a bloody battle that may well have turned the Revolutionary War in George Washingtons favor. In the 1960s, Greensboro became a flashpoint for the civil rights movement.
Located just under one hour north of the Triad is Hanging Rock State Park, 6,921 acres of forest and mountain tucked between Highways 66 and 89. Established in the 1930s, the park sits within the ancient Sauratown Mountain range, named for the Saura Indians who once inhabited the region. Over 18 miles of hiking trails thread through the wooded expanse of the park, leading you to waterfalls, caves, and the dramatic outcrop of Hanging Rock itself.
The pick of the trails, however, is the strenuous 4.2-mile Moores Wall Loop Trail, which will take you to the top of 2,572-foot Moores Knob, affording panoramic views of the Sauratown, Pilot, and Blue Ridge Mountains. To access this trail, follow the shorter Chestnut Oak Nature Trail along the curve of the parks man-made lake, hanging a right over a small footbridge at the end of the lake. One hundred yards on, you will come to the Moores Wall trailhead, which will transport you through rhododendrons and azaleas towards the exposed ridge of the rocky summit.
Hanging Rock State Park: www.ils.unc.edu/parkproject/visit/haro/home.html; (336) 593-8480
Greensboro Area CVB: www.greensboronc.org; (800) 344-2282
High Point CVB: www.highpoint.org; (800) 720-5255
Winston-Salem CVB: www.wscvb.com; (800) 331-7018Weekender
About 80 miles south of Winston-Salem lies Uwharrie National Forest, 50,000 acres of second- and third-growth forest that offers two excellent overnighters. For the avid hiker, there is the 20.5-mile Uwharrie National Recreational Trail, a north to south route that starts two miles east of Ophir and ends on Highway 24/27, nine miles west of Troy. Hikers can camp at three official sites along the trail system or in any area not marked off limits. Several mid-trail access points mean it can be tackled in sections. In addition, Dutchman's Creek Trail, a 9.5-mile figure-of-eight loop, is an alternative route that can be used when hiking the southern portion of the Uwharrie Trail.
A slightly less arduous option is to let the current of the Uhwarrie River carry you and your gear through the national forest as part of a canoe camping expedition. Portaging may be required if water levels are low, particularly during the summer and when rainfall has been low. However, note that this situation can change suddenly, both a blessing and curse, as inexperienced paddlers may misjudge the power of the rivers currents. You may camp on land that is part of the national forest, but steer clear of areas staked out as private property. There is a put-in for the river just south of Highway 49, and it is a two-day paddle to the intersection of the Uhwarrie and Pee Dee Rivers on the southwestern fringe of the forest.
Uwharrie National Forest: www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc/recreation/uwharrie/index.htm; (910) 576-6391
Check out GORP's picks for fun in Uwharrie Forest
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication