6 Off-Road Trails & Areas To Explore In North Carolina

5th Gen 4Runner Off-Roading in North Carolina

4×4 Trails Rated For All Levels: User-Sourced Overland Resource

Welcome back to an all-new post featuring the top trails and OHV parks across America! Last time, we featured a few trails in Georgia, and this week, we are featuring the fan favorite trails across North Carolina.

Nestled in the heart of the Southeastern United States, North Carolina has a diverse landscape perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. From the picturesque mountains to the sprawling forests and everything in between, the state offers tons of opportunities for off-roading and camping.

Check out the six fan-favorite trails and OHV areas, that we are featuring today. And make sure to comment below any additional you think that we should add!

Note: The trails listed below are in no particular order.

1. Dutch John

5th Gen 4Runner Off-Roading on the Dutch John Trail in Troy, NC

Submission By: Joseph (@704runnerr)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

I like Uwharrie National Forest because there is something for everyone who likes the outdoors. The nearly 20 miles of off-road trails which is what entices me the most to visit the area, but it also offers numerous primitive camping spots as well as lake activities with Badin Lake along with hiking trails and shooting ranges.

The trails are wide enough to accommodate almost any rig size and type. I also like that the scenery varies on each trail from deep woods with steep drop offs to wide challenging rock gardens which truly makes Uwharrie a destination worth traveling to.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

Uwharrie offers trails of varying difficulty from easy to hard. My personal favorite trails are Dutch John and Rocky Mountain Loop, both offer challenging terrain for the weekend warrior that I would rate a level of difficulty between a 4/10 to 5/10.

Dickey Bell and Daniel are two of the most challenging trails in the park that, depending on your rig setup, could be considered a 8/10 to a 10/10 in difficulty.

If you are looking for an easier ride for times when you want to just relax, have kids in the car, or maybe your vehicle is more on the stock side I recommend Saw Mill, Falls Dam, or the newest trail Lakeview. I would rate all three a 2/10 to 3/10, but they are always fun.

2. Hot Springs Area

4th Gen 4Runner Off-Roading in the Hot Springs Area in Hot Springs, NC

Submission By: Jeff (@4runnin_around)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

There is an abundance of trails in the area, some unknown to most unless they’re gone exploring and mapping the area themselves. From known spots like Hurricane Creek and The Goat Trail and surrounding area is where most folks would go, but hardly know the area north of that in Hot Springs, that has beautiful sites, trails and camping.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

While these aren’t the most difficult trails or have the fun obstacles, it’s a lot of miles between FSRs and trails to cover. On average I would say that the difficulty of these areas are about a 4/10 on average. Of course that can change depending on where you go and time of year. Always check out the areas you plan on going to prior to making the trip over so you are prepared!

3. Brown Mountain OHV

3rd Gen Tacoma at the Brown Mountain OHV in Lenoir, NC

Submission By: Collin (@bugout_overland)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

I like it because it’s close to home, short, and just makes for a quick day-ride getaway that offers some “technical” obstacles. It’s good practice for beginner off-roaders, but a good relaxing trip for seasoned off-roaders.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

For a bone stock vehicle, I’d say the difficulty is a 5/10. For me, and how my vehicle is, it feels more like a 2/10 or 3/10 now. The obstacles look far worse than what they are but they are loads of fun for everyone!

4. Uwharrie National Forest

5th Gen 4Runner Off-Roading in Uwharrie National Forest in Troy, NC

Submission By: Tim (@milk.wagon)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

All of the tree coverage is great especially with the changing of colors in the fall. These are some of the cleanest and best maintained trails I have seen in the country. There is plenty to do for people with all levels off of offroading experience as well as other sorts of outdoor activities.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

Trails in the forest system range from a difficulty of about a 2/10 to an 8/10 in my opinion. Daniel and Dickey Bell, being two of the hardest trails there, have plenty of fun lines and obstacles but shouldn’t be taken lightly.

5. Pisgah National Forest

5th Gen 4Runner Off-Roading in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina

Submission By: Will (@nc_weekend_wanderers)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

This area provides everything from beautiful scenic dirt roads to slick, muddy East Coast trails. You can go from 500 feet in elevation, next to a river, up to 3,800 feet with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge mountains. It makes a great area to explore for a day or to stay longer and camp!

What Would You Rate This Spot?

Depending on the routes you take, the level of difficulty can vary. I would say that the fire service roads are fairly easy and can be rated a 1/10 or 2/10. Then you can explore more of the tight, muddy, and rocky trails and those are rated about a 5/10.

6. Uwharrie OHV

5th Gen 4Runner Off-Roading in the Uwharrie OHV in Eldorado, NC

Submission By: Ethan (@trd_ethan)

Tell Us About Your Favorite Spot

I love this park and trail system because of how family like the staff and community is. The park is very well maintained making it a lot more fun to head out for the day.

I alsoo love the variety of trails offered, going from scenic and easy, to multiple hundred foot drivable rock walls and very technical paths. Depending on what mood I’m in I could do either or.

What Would You Rate This Spot?

The rating is completely dependent on what trails you decide to do and it varies from a 1/10 – 9/10.

There are some beginner trails like (Wolf Den) driving through the Woods and doing slight articulations over rocks good for about anybody with a 4×4.

Then there’s about four trails like that have pre-rough, terrain, including large boulders to go around or (climb with a winch). Also, these trails include multiple rock walls that are a couple hundred feet tall. The community there are always happy to help you pick a path and guide you up as you drive the rock walls.

Final Thoughts

Hot Springs Area in Hot Springs, NC

North Carolina offers a diverse range of trails catering to both leisurely rides and challenging off-road adventures. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing and scenic drive or a thrilling test of your vehicle’s capabilities, the state has an abundance of options to suit every preference.

We’d love to hear about your favorite off-road spots, so feel free to share below! Join us again next time for more exciting adventures. Until then, happy trails!

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