Thursday, February 22, 2018

Scenic Byways

Mill Bridge Scenic Byway | Uwharrie Scenic Road | Rolling Kansas Byway | Pee Dee Valley Drive | Grassy Island Crossing | Sandhills Scenic Drive | Birkhead Wilderness Route | Flint Hill Ramble | Indian Heritage Trail | Pottery Road

This page offers descriptions of 10 Scenic Byways passing through the Central Park region.  More detailed information, including driving directions, can be accessed by clicking on the name of the byway.  Before you get in the car, note the location of this region's freshest produce stands, farmers markets, and wineries on our farms page.  Note that the Central Park website also has information on attractions, points of historic interest, and places to stay & eat.

Mill Bridge Scenic Byway

Length: 14 miles
Time to Allow: 25 minutes

Driving the Millbridge Scenic Byway is experiencing rural North Carolina as it reveals history and stories from an earlier time. This byway exhibits many historic buildings from the early 1800s and preserves the simple way of life that is characteristic of the country.

Country life is manifested in the pick-your-own fruit orchards that can be found along part of the byway and the Piedmont Agricultural Research Station. Throughout the fields and orchards, little communities surface bearing their own pieces of history. The community of Millbridge features a unique collection of buildings and stores.

Nearby, in the city of Salisbury, visitors will find streets of Civil War history. On a side trip to the Lazy Five Ranch, travelers will drive through an animal park where they will spot zebras, ostriches, antelope, bison, and reindeer. Kerr Mill at Sloan Park features an 1823 mill with a working waterwheel. Scenic farmland and tidbits of history await along the Millbridge Scenic Byway.

Uwharrie Scenic Road

Length: 50 miles
Time to Allow: 1 hour

From the intersection of US 64 & NC 49 in Asheboro, follow NC 49 along the geologic area known as the Carolina slate belt southwest toward Concord. Many buildings and fences seen throughout these rolling hills were constructed from this metamorphic rock.

Travel through the Uwharrie National Forest and view the Uwharrie Mountains, formed several hundred million years ago by volcanoes. Crops such as corn and winter wheat can be found along the way.


Rolling Kansas Byway

Length: 9 miles
Time to Allow: 20 minutes

This byway passes through an area known as Rolling Kansas, so nicknamed because of its hilly terrain and turn of the century farms and windmills. Begin on Bear Creek Church Road (S.R. 1428) where it enters Stanly County from Cabarrus County. Nearby is Bethel Bear Creek United Church of Christ and its graveyard with tombstones dating back to the 1820’s and is among the oldest cemeteries in the county. Continue along Bear Creek Church Road across a one-lane bridge and into Rolling Kansas. At 3.3 miles take a left onto Millingport Road (S.R. 1134) and head six miles along rolling countryside with panoramic views of the western piedmont. The byway ends in the town of Richfield at the intersection with U.S. 52.


Pee Dee Valley Drive

Length: 14 miles
Time to Allow: 30 minutes

The Pee Dee River Valley is the setting for this North Carolina scenic drive. Located in the region of the Uwharrie National Forest, this byway travels through beautiful piedmont country with many recreational opportunities. Between Badin Lake and Lake Tillery visitors will find places to stop and play along the Pee Dee River.

The Pee Dee River itself is a part of the many stories and legends in the region. The river's name actually originates from the Catawba Indian word for smart, capable, or expert. The river travels south through South Carolina and finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean.


Grassy Island Crossing

Length: 26 miles / 41.8 km
Time to Allow: 40 minutes

At the lower end of the Uwharrie/Pee Dee Lakes region is the Grassy Island Crossing. Travelers driving the byway will notice a group of earthen masses just north of Blewett Falls Lake. These are the Grassy Islands.

This remote part of North Carolina offers access to the marshlands of the Pee Dee National Wildlife Service. Visitors will have the opportunity to view waterfowl in their habitat through an observation blind. Further along the byway, travelers will encounter recreational opportunities along the Pee Dee River and especially at Blewett Falls Lake where boat ramps and fishing access points are available.


Sandhills Scenic Drive

Length: 46 miles / 74.0 km
Time to Allow: 1 hour

This byways' name originates from a series of low rolling hills located between the Cape Fear and Pee Dee Rivers. Settled by Scottish Highlanders around 1740, the area was named for the coarse sandy soil. Along the route visitors can stop at the Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines. Here is the last remaining cluster of ancient longleaf pines which covered the sandhills until the logging of the 18th Century nearly wiped them out. The surrounding swamp forest also houses rare plants and animals while the forest has regenerated with the faster growing shortleaf pine. Also found on the byway are Morrow Mountain State Park and Lake Tillery, a fine resource for the state's recreation enthusiasts.


Birkhead Wilderness Route

Length: 14 miles / 22.5 km
Time to Allow: 25 minutes, allow extra time to stop and see the attractions

As a side road into the Uwharrie National Forest, the Birkhead Wilderness Route reveals the most rugged areas of North Carolina's piedmont.

This mountainous area offers travelers a view of wilderness terrain combined with remnants of the past. Upon hiking the trails of the area, visitors will catch glimpses of the past in the old abandoned homesteads and mining areas.

The Uwharrie National Forest covers 4,800 acres where visitors can see the oldest mountains on the continent. The byway travels through some of the most sparsely populated areas of the state and offers travelers a true escape from the bustle of urban life.


Flint Hill Ramble

Length: 5 miles / 8.0 km
Time to Allow: 10 minutes

As a remote byway in the North Carolina piedmont, this drive is for the adventurous traveler. Take a trip on this byway on your way to a camping vacation in the Uwharrie National Forest or drive it en route to the cities of central North Carolina. Wherever your destination is, the Flint Hill Ramble is a ramble you'll want to try.

This byway travels through the Uwharrie National Forest, past the site of Jumping Off Rock-- a rocky bluff over looking cool waters. Definitely a temptation for travelers on a hot summer day, but jumping off this aptly named rock is discouraged. Travelers will continue on through the town of Ophir, once a boom town during gold mining days. Folklore of North Carolina's gold mining days can be found among ruins of old mines near the Uwharrie River.

Surrounded by the wilderness and the forest, outdoors lovers can refresh themselves by leaving the car for a hike. The head of the Uwharrie Trail can be found along the byway and will take hikers on a gorgeous hike through Uwharrie backcountry. Near to the Ramble, travelers will find Badin Lake and a recreational area that invites boating, hiking, picnicking, and camping.


Indian Heritage Trail

Length: 18 miles / 29.0 km
Time to Allow: 35 minutes

Journey this byway to historic and archaeological areas relating to American Indian culture. The road travels through some of North Carolina's quiet towns providing a scenic drive with a few pleasant stops. Travelers will drive through peach country where they may be enticed to stop at a roadside fruitstand for some fresh, plump peaches.

The byway begins the Uwharrie Lakes area in the little town of Ellerbe. Ellerbe was named for W.T. Ellerbe who developed Ellerbe Springs located further along the byway. The springs are home to the historic Ellerbe Springs Inn and Restaurant where some visitors may want to dine and stay for a while to fully enjoy the surroundings.

At the end of the byway, travelers will find the route's namesake. The Town Creek Indian Mound offers an in depth look at one of the oldest cultures ever to inhabit the lands of North Carolina. The Creek Indians of the Pee Dee peoples built mounds and had ceremonies here nearly 400 years ago. Tour the reconstructed temples and learn more.


Pottery Road

Length: 25 miles / 40.2 km
Time to Allow: 30 minutes

This byway travels through the largest active pottery community in North America, established in the 18th century, where over 100 potters continue to make traditional and contemporary ceramics.  Stop at the North Carolina Pottery Center to gain a historical perspective and pick up a map to locate the many pottery studios.