If you’ve ever walked the Uwharrie Trail, especially in the Birkhead Wilderness Area, you’ve likely encountered an old “camp.” Joe’s boy scouts built these camps largely as Eagle Scout projects, and at one point in time they could be found all along the trail, from Tot Hill Trailhead to Highway 24/27. Now the ones that had actual structures, such as fire pits, were mostly in the Birkheads. A few still remain, but you have to know where some of them are to find them.
Camp 1, 1B, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 can all be located in the Wilderness Area. Camp 1 and Camp 1B are located on a side trail off of the Camp Three Trail. Camp 1 has a stone fireplace and the plaque indicating the location of the camp is still there. It says that camp was built July 22, 1976. Camp 5 is also located off the Camp Three Trail. There is no water at this camp location. There is a stone fireplace. There used to be a plaque here as well but it was stolen. If anyone has a picture of that plaque, I’d love to see it (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Camp 4 is off another side trail further down the south end of Birkhead Mountain. There are some yellow blazes indicating the path to this camp. There’s a plaque here signifying that this was an Eagle Project for Butch Newberry. This camp was completed March 3, 1979. Camp 6 is located at the far south end of the Birkheads off another yellow blazed side trail. There is another stone fireplace at this camp. There’s a plaque here that says the camp was built on April 3, 1976, and lists the scouts who worked on the camp, and that it was an Eagle Project for Mark Gordon.
Camp 7 is located near King Mountain in a valley. It is known as Twin Springs. It was built on June 26, 1977. The plaque here dedicates the camp to “one of our finest trail companions – Jim Green.” It also says, “Beware the doom that came to Eden – snake country.” There’s a sign for Camp 7 on the Uwharrie Trail and a yellow blazed trail down to the camp. There’s a double fireplace found here.
I found this old camp when Three Rivers Land Trust purchased the King Mountain Property, as we were trying to decide where to put the line for the half of the tract that USFS would buy. This camp was just over the property line and already on USFS land, but we moved the line a little to the east to make sure USFS land where the camp was connected to the part of the King Mountain Property USFS would be acquiring from the Land Trust.
If you continue on over Little Long Mountain you’ll come back down in elevation and cross Poison Fork Creek. Then you head on up the southern end of Long Mountain, and a yellow blazed side trail on the west leads to Camp 8B. This was built in August of 1981 and was Glenn Imbler’s Eagle Scout Project. This plaque also states “The last recorded people to live here was Dory Luther in the early 1900s. But just who settled here first remains a mistery. Only the old oak standing nearby is old enough to remember the happenings around this mistery homestead.” There’s a fireplace here too.
The only other campsite area I’ve seen is what is believed to be Camp 9, on the old road that parallels the Uwharrie Trail near Dark Mountain. There’s no marker or fireplace here, just a flat spot, but Don Childrey (author of the Uwharrie Lakes Region Trail Guide) researched some of the old guides and believes that is the spot. You can read more about these camps in Don’s book, available at donchildrey.com.
I met with Joe Moffitt a couple of times before he passed away, and he shared with me a map that showed several more campsites on further south from Camp 9. However I do not think any of those had any structures associated with them. Seeing these camps you might wonder how boy scouts lugged in all those rocks and bags of mortar to put the fireplaces together. Joe told me that they drove in to most of the sites in an old Jeep with the materials. He used to work at a place that made flat pans and he said he made those plaques by cutting the bottoms out of the pans. It’s great that some of those old plaques still survive.
I find it ironic that most of the camps with structures like fireplaces are found in the wilderness area, which is not really supposed to have signs of man’s influence on the landscape, but at this point they have historic value and hopefully can remain. It’s a neat reminder of the dedicated individuals that made this trail possible. Next time you hike by a camp, stop and think about those folks, and appreciate their efforts that created this great resource known as the Uwharrie Trail for our continual use and enjoyment.