This is a true wilderness experience, and since overnight camping is allowed, there are several primitive campsites along the Birkhead Mountain Trail. Anchored by the 800-foot Brush Mountain, Cedar Rock Mountain (940ft) and Coolers Knob (940 ft.) this is an enjoyable escape where one can find a lot of deep forest and very few if any people. The Birkheads contain some of the most rugged terrain of the Uwharrie Range. For complete solitude, this is an excellent venue for a hike. Four trails traverse the area, the Birkhead Mountains Trail, the Robbins Branch Trail, the Camp 3 Trail and the Hannah’s Creek Trail. There is a lengthy access trail at the Thornburg farm.
On this trip I entered through the Thornburg access near Asheboro for a great ten-mile day hike. The hike begins among the farm buildings of the Lewis-Thornburg place built around 1855. The farm is on the National Register of Historic Places. I spent a few minutes here, walked through the house which was open and through the farm buildings. Time to hit the trail. After crossing the nearly washed out bridge over Betty McGee’s Creek and traversing the Thornburg access trail, I headed up the Robbins Branch Trail towards Brush Mountain.
I decided on a trip over through Lost Branch and the old Rush and Doud gold mines on the Camp 3 Trail. Once on the Camp 3 Trail the mining history of the area is evident as the trail passes through the Lost Branch mining area, where at the Rush mine, there are still evidence of the hand dug pits and equipment from a bygone era. America’s first gold rush took place in the Uwharrie when a gold nugget was found near Cabarrus County North Carolina. The gold rush lasted from 1799 to 1848 when gold was found in California. Some limited mining continues in the area today. Panning for gold in the Uwharrie is a favorite local past time.