A variety of outdoor activities make a trip to Morrow Mountain State Park, 6 miles east of Albemarle, a fun-filled Piedmont adventure for all ages and interests.
Morrow Mountain covers nearly 4,700 acres of the Uwharrie Mountains range; the park’s entire eastern edge is bounded by water. At the northeast corner, the convergence of the Yadkin and Uwharrie rivers forms the Pee Dee River; Lake Tillery borders the park’s southeast corner. So it’s only natural that many of the park’s activities are water-related. Fishing is a popular pastime along the riverbanks or on the lake; game fish include perch, catfish, bluegill and bass. Boating is another favorite activity, and rowboats and canoes can be rented at the boathouse at the northern end of the park. (Own your own craft? A boat ramp is in the same area.) June to Labor Day, a public swimming pool is open for a nominal fee. Youngsters can enjoy splashing in the adjacent kiddie pool. The old stone bathhouse provides convenient changing rooms, showers, restrooms and concessions.
The Bridle Trail is an equestrian delight – a 16-mile route that circles the park under a canopy of towering oaks, pines and poplars. A variety of hiking trails range in length from 0.6 mile to more than 4 miles. The majority are easy walks; some are moderate, and two are deemed strenuous. All are well-marked. If you’re not interested in walking the 3-mile Morrow Mountain Trail to the summit, a quick drive will take you to the top, where overlooks provide views to the east, west and south.
Campsites – 106 for tents and RVs – are available; each site in the family campground features a picnic table and grill. Restrooms and showers are conveniently located. The park also has six vacation cabins leased on a weekly basis during summer months and for two-night weekend stays in spring and fall. Each cabin has two bedrooms, a kitchen with dining space, a living room with fireplace, and a bathroom. For more rugged individuals, the park also has a primitive campground in a secluded area about a 2-mile hike from the park office. Drinking water and supplies must be carried to the site and no fires are permitted.
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Complementing the park’s natural attractions is the recreated homestead of Dr. Francis Kron, the first formally trained doctor in North Carolina’s southern Piedmont. He became an area legend as he traveled miles on horseback or by wagon to treat patients. The park also includes a small nature museum. Gates open at 8 a.m. daily; closing hours vary seasonally. Admission is free. Details: www.ncparks.gov.
In the area...
From Morrow Mountain, loop around the north side of Badin Lake ( via N.C. 740, 8, 49 and 109) to get to Badin Lake Recreation Area. Maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, this natural area provides ample opportunity for boating, fishing and swimming as well as hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There are also 17 miles of wooded trails designed for mountain bikes and off-highway vehicles. Lots of camp sites are available – there’s even a camp site for horses and their riders. Details: www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc (type “Badin” in the search window).
If you’re hungry/thirsty...
In Albemarle, Off the Square (www.offthesquarenc.com) provides casual dining with a menu that runs from BLTs, rib-eye sandwiches and braised brisket to crab cakes and pan-seared duck breast. One downside: It’s closed Sundays-Mondays.