The national forests of North Carolina are home to some of the best scenic overlooks, waterfalls, hiking trails, and natural beauty in our state. If you’re wanting to be adventurous this summer, but not sure where to start, here is a breakdown of the four most impressive forests found in our state!
1. Uwharrie National Forest
The Uwharrie National Forest mainly covers Montgomery County but parts of the 50,645 acre forest reach Davidson and Randolph County. The forest was named after the Uwharrie mountain chain that runs through the area. The 11-mile wilderness trail makes it a popular destination for hiking and biking...without the long drive to the mountains. It is also home to water sports, and recreational activities such as fishing and boating along Badin Lake.
2. Pisgah National Forest
This impressive national forest is located in the Appalachian Mountains in the western region of the state. Throughout 512,758 acres the forest runs through 12 NC counties. Pisgah is home to some of North Carolina's most treasured gems, like Linville Gorge, Mt. Mitchell, French Broad River, and Craggy Gardens. The forest largely consists of mile-high peaks, rushing waterfalls, and immense greenery. Pisgah is a popular destination for hiking, camping, exploring waterfalls, and a day in uncharted wilderness. Pisgah is the first piece of land purchased in 1911 under the Weeks Act, leading to the establishment of national forests throughout the eastern region of the country.
3. Nantahala National Forest
Nantahala is a Cherokee word meaning 'Land of the Noonday Sun.' In some areas of the forest, the sun only reaches the floor at midday. At 531,270 acres, Nantahala is the largest national forest in North Carolina. The forest lies in the southwestern region of the state and spans from mountains at 5,800 ft. elevation to valleys at 1,200 ft. With the powerful Nantahala River running through the forest, as well as several others, the forest is home to hundreds of North Carolina waterfalls. Pictured above is the popular Dry Falls. With over 600 miles of trails, hikers, horse back riders, bikers, backpackers, and campers will find much joy and excitement. The area is also extremely popular for water sports such as whitewater rafting.
4. Croatan National Forest
In the eastern region of the state we have Croatan National Forest. The forest consists of 160,000 acres of pine forests, raised swamps, and saltwater estuaries. The forest is bordered by tidal rivers and the Bogue Sound. The terrain provides a diverse amount of wildlife...from alligators to bears to the carnivorous Venus fly-trap. The water makes Croatan a popular destination for fishing, kayaking, and boating.