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Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Loop

  3.5 ( 4 ) Favorite


9.8 mile 15.8 kilometer loop


Ascent: 995' 303 m
Descent: -995' -303 m
High: 897' 273 m
Low: 415' 127 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)


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Trail shared by Matt Chisholm


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Thornburg Tract and Birkhead Wilderness Loop in Uwharrie.

Matt Chisholm

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek

Hunters use this area frequently so watch out. They were really nice when I saw them.


This is an incredible isolated trail with several large climbs in Carolina piedmont. There are not a ton of great viewpoints but there are some awesome smaller creeks and varying terrain. This trail includes a cutoff to a boyscout camp.

Need to Know

I would bring a water bottle, especially on a hot day. This hike took me a while and I was incredibly thirsty. You don't need a ton of water, but some to keep you going.


Start at Thornburg Tract Trailhead. There is a mounted trail map by the parking lot, but they trails are not marked well. There may or may not be maps in the map basket box thing. There weren't any for me. Use the Hiking Project mobile app if you are worried about finding your way.

You start the hike by going through an old homestead, probably the Thornburg homestead, with several marked old outbuilding including a really cool old barn, chicken coop, and carriage house. From there, you hike down a hill to a creek and cross on a bridge or hike through. The bridge has been damaged from a flood and is pushed off camber.

After crossing the creek, you head up on a long climb for about a 1+ miles through some pretty awesome singletrack that winds up the hillside. There is a trail marker at a more level spot with camping spots to your right after a field. You eventually run into Robbins Branch Trail and hang a left. The trail follows a creek with several crossings until it swoops towards the east and up to Birkhead Mountain Trail. This trail is a great singletrack on a ridge for several miles. Footing can be a little interesting here though, so watch out.

At about 5 miles, you'll have an option to cut the corner from Birkhead Mountain Trail to Hannah's Creek Trail down to a creek with a boyscout camp that has a fire ring and fireplace with a plaque on it. It's a pretty sweet spot to hang out or even camp.

After hiking through the camp, you'll hit Hannah's Creek Trail, and you'll take a right. This is some great singletrack again up to Robbins Branch Trail when you hang a right and go up a pretty stiff climb. This was really tiring if you do this loop the way I did it. There are several upward pointing stones and the climb is pretty relentless though not steep. After the top, you'll descend for about .3 or .4 miles back to the intersection with Thornburg Tract Trail. There is a sign there, so you'll take a left, hike down the hill you've already hike up to the creek, cross again, and head back to the car.

Flora & Fauna

Didn't see any, but a local naturalist could probably tell you about the variety of things you can see in this area.

History & Background

Besides the old homestead, there are a couple of places with stone ruins that have fallen down. I don't know the story on these.

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Oct 6, 2019
Jordan Ethington
9.8mi — 4h 00m
Nov 11, 2018
Jim Shermer
Aug 19, 2018
Petegap180 Johnson
Apr 13, 2018
Samuel Bytnar
Feb 24, 2018
Eric Shun
Feb 15, 2018
Alvin Sutter
Feb 3, 2018
Samuel Bytnar
Feb 2, 2018
Samuel Bytnar

Trail Ratings

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  3.5 from 4 votes
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in North Carolina


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