Outdoor Adventures Every North Carolinian Should Try: Central NC


Katie Quine


Erin Reitz

Kayak along the Haw River
Even in the Piedmont, you don’t have to travel far to get off the grid. Head to the unincorporated community of Saxapahaw, situated between Chapel Hill and Graham, for an on-the-water adventure. The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Company not only rents boats and necessary equipment, but also offers special trips revolving around stargazing, picnicking, and brunch.

The Haw River Canoe & Kayak Company
6079 Swepsonville-Saxapahaw Road, Saxapahaw
(336) 260-6465 or hawrivercanoe.com

Saddle up
Enjoy an afternoon of galloping and gallivanting around the family-owned Happy Trails Farm. The number of people who can ride horseback at one time is kept small, which ensures an intimate experience with these beautiful and well-cared-for animals. Children as young as three can ride in a buddy saddle with their parents, and there are on-site picnic tables where the whole family can sit around for a packed lunch.

Happy Trails Farm
704 Dogwood Hill Lane, Wake Forest
(919) 528-7968 or happytrailsfarm.us

Go rock climbing
Challenge yourself to a rock-climbing adventure at one of several mountains across central North Carolina, including Crowders Mountain, Stone Mountain, and Pilot Mountain. Capstone Climbing & Adventure provides all of the equipment and guidance needed. The views from the top are all the more worth it when they’re well earned.

Capstone Climbing & Adventure
(704) 652-2548 or capstoneclimbing.com

Tackle the same rapids as world-class athletes
Charlotte isn’t the first place where you’d necessarily expect to find Class II and III rapids, but they’re here at the man-made U.S. National Whitewater Center. In fact, Olympic athletes competing in whitewater slalom racing train here. If you’re not a pro, that’s no problem. Quick-witted and knowledgeable raft guides will teach you all you need to know for a successful voyage, but nothing will quite prepare you for how soaked you’ll be afterwards.

U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte
(704) 391-3900 or usnwc.org

Camp at the Uhwarrie National Forest
Perhaps the oldest mountain range in North America no longer stands as tall as it once did due to years of erosion, but the Uhwarries’s proximity to both Charlotte and the Triad still makes for a great weekend getaway. Ample trees provide plenty of shade during the day and are perfect for strapping up a hammock at night. Listen quietly for Bigfoot, who is rumored to lurk in this neck of the woods.

Uhwarrie National Forest
Highway 109 North, Troy