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HIDDEN GEM: This little-known mountain range in central North Carolina has views, lakes, and trails. And it’s the oldest in the US!

If you’re ever visiting North Carolina, you likely are keying in on either checking out the coast or the blue ridge mountains. And while they’re both in the same state, hitting both in one trip isn’t easy. Getting from the NC beaches to the beginning of the NC mountains will take you 5 hours.

But what if I told you there is another hidden mountain range, closer to central North Carolina?

There is, and it’s less than 100 miles from Raleigh (the state capital) and less than 70 from Charlotte (the state’s biggest city).

The Uwharrie Mountains are, believe it or not, the oldest mountain range in the United States. They are over 500 million years old. Yeah, you read that right.

Today the mountain range isn’t quite as dramatic as it used to be. In fact, they were once thought to be 20,000 feet high and made up of huge volcanic and jagged peaks.

However, the Uwharries still offer some beautiful views, two large lakes, and countless trails for hiking, horseback riding, and 4-wheeling.

We took a trip out there to check it out…

We were lucky enough to stay at house that is owned by friends of the family and got to explore some of the fun things that the Uwharrie Mountains have to offer. We hiked Morrow Mountain, we sat out by Badin Lake, and we cooked out while taking in the view.

We also did a little drinking at Stony Mountain Vineyards, which has some pretty tasty wines and some of the best views of the mountains. (We didn’t get photos because the weather wasn’t great, but here are some from their Facebook.)

After that, we headed to town (Mount Gilead, NC) to get a bite to eat on Lake Tillery. We were recommended River Wild. A bar/restaurant overlooking the lake. And man did we love it! They had great food and even a little mini-golf course (although we didn’t play.)

Some other things we didn’t have to time to check out, that you might be interested in trying, is horseback riding, camping, skeet shooting, boating, river Kayaking, mountain biking, or even some golf. The Uwharrie’s are just a 45-minute drive to the golf mecca that is Pinehurst. Oh, and they are also just 45 minutes to the NC Zoo in Asheboro.

Kayaking Uwharrie Hoof and Paddle

Video from River Kings YouTube

Skeet ShootingForks Farm Sporting Clays

The Fork Shooting Facility 2 from Chris Lambert on Vimeo.

Video from Fork Farms Vimeo

BoatingLake Tillery Boat Rentals

GolfTot Hill Farms

If you don’t get the picture yet, there is a TON to do out in the Uwharrie Mountains which makes it even more crazy that most people on the east coast haven’t heard of it. While it doesn’t have the epic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s more accessible to most of the state, is way less crowded, and way less expensive for a short vacation.

We highly recommend this hidden gem! But shhh… let’s keep it our little secret!