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Birkhead Mountain Wilderness Loop



9.8 mile 15.8 kilometer loop
96% Runnable


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

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 run 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 Trail Run Project mobile app if you are worried about finding your way.

You start the run 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 run down a hill to a creek and cross on a bridge or run 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 running 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, run down the hill you've already run 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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in North Carolina


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Bare maple trees on a wet, foggy day.
Feb 12, 2018 near Asheboro, NC
Bend in the creek with a campsite
Feb 11, 2018 near Denton, NC
Creek crossing on the Camp Four Trail
Feb 11, 2018 near Denton, NC
Half a billion year old Greenstone boulders
Feb 12, 2018 near Denton, NC
The split in the trail for the shortcut
Feb 25, 2018 near Denton, NC
Trail markers appear after a field near some campsites. Keep heading straight to hit the Robbins Branch Trail.
Dec 27, 2016 near Denton, NC


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