The Birkhead Mountains Wilderness was established by the 1984 North Carolina Wilderness Act. The goals are to protect and preserve its natural resources and wilderness character and provide for public use. The Wilderness includes 5,160 acres at the northern end of the Uwharrie Mountains.
These mountains are considered to be the oldest on the North American Continent. Evidence of early Indians dates back over 12,000 years. The Catawba Indians inhabited the area when the Europeans began exploring the region in the late 1600’s. By 1760 settlement had begun in earnest, opened up by the explorers and traders along the Ocaneechi Trail.
The Birkhead family raised a son, John Watson (Watt), who was born in 1858. The 3,000 acres that he acquired over the years were made up of many small tenant farms. Thus the mountain range became known locally as the Birkhead Mountains.
This old plantation is the core of the Wilderness. Remember, as you use the Wilderness, your challenge is to leave no trace of your passing. This will protect and preserve the area as true wilderness. Evidence of early Indians and settlers can often be found. These archeological and historic artifacts and sites hold clues to America’s past. If disturbed , a part of our heritage is lost forever. Federal law protects such sites and artifacts on public land. If you discover such remains please leave them undisturbed.
All trails within the Wilderness are designated hiking trails. Travel by horse, motorized vehicle or bicycle is prohibited. A detailed map of the Wilderness is available at the District Ranger’s Office.