Uwharrie National Forest
The Uwharrie is one of the Piedmont's last unspoiled rivers. The water drains mostly agricultural regions of Randolph and Montgomery counties. It is dammed at Lake Lucas to provide drinking water for the city of Asheboro.
The first Uwharrie River paddlers used stone tools and fire to carve their canoes from trees. Today, river runners have a wide assortment of canoes and kayaks to choose from. These modern boats are made of high tech plastic or fiberglass. Cost ranges from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Big city outfitters usually rent canoes, equipment and some provide paddling instruction. Trail clubs run the river every year. Paddling with a club is probably the best way for beginners to learn the Uwharrie or any other river. Experienced paddlers know that heavy rains can change the Uwharrie from a gentle beginners' stream to a swift-water hazard. The Ash-Rand Rescue Squad of Asheboro once wiped out their aluminum boat on this river while saving a pair of stranded paddlers. That is the power of all that water running downhill to the sea. An upstream storm miles away can cause a flash-flood downstream—where skies are still blue and sunny. It is a river of extremes. During dry summers the Piedmont stream is shallow and, in places, not worth floating.
Putting in can be a challenge. It could mean carrying or sliding boat and gear down a bridge embankment to reach the water. Boaters have navigation rights to the water but not to the shore, where the river passes through private property. Paddlers may, however, legally camp beside the river where it runs through the national forest. The boundaries are generally well marked by the owners.
The river starts near High Point but is narrow, rocky and not fit for paddling. Most paddlers put in at the Highway 49 bridge south of Asheboro or at some other point downstream. The Uwharrie Trail Club of Asheboro starts an annual trip in April from below Lassiter's Mill to just above the intersection of the Uwharrie and Pee Dee rivers. This run usually takes two days, depending on the water flow. It is a one day paddle from the Highway 109 bridge to the end, where the Uwharrie and Yadkin rivers join to form the Pee Dee River. Once there, you can paddle across the river to a convenient landing at Morrow Mountain State Park.
During low water times be ready to drag your boat across rocks that you would float over at flood stage. Look for moderate to lively rapids during normal water levels. The scenery is worth the trip as paddlers see the best of the Uwharrie National Forest.
Pleasure Boating on Badin Lake
Boaters do it all on Badin Lake. Water skiers, cruisers, sailors and personal watercraft run the lake during warm weekends and summer vacations. Best time to come is during the week when traffic is light. Boaters can explore the forested shores of the Uwharrie National Forest and be delightfully isolated from the rest of the world as they fish, swim or relax. Badin Lake is their place to get away. Most Badin Lake boaters are laid back and nice people to be around.
The lake is deep with few shallow water hazards and those are marked with bouys. During heavy rains, logs and tree limbs wash over the Tuckertown dam and end up in the lake. Running over this floating debris can trash a propeller or outboard. If a boater does break down someone is usually around to offer a tow. It is the code of the lake.
Thunderstorms can blow in with little warning and create dangerous lightning conditions. Smart boaters seek safety in a sheltered cove until the storm blows over—which usually doesn't take long. Canoes or other small craft, especially those with inexperienced operators, could have problems with the wind.
Lakeside camping is exceptional on the National Forest shoreline. Whole families camp from their boats and swim, fish, explore and sunbathe all they want. Cabin-cruisers, sailboats and houseboats can drop anchor and spend peaceful nights tucked away in the forested bays of the Uwharrie National Forest.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication