9 Best Off Road Trails in NC: North Carolina

Red Jeep Off-Road Mud

North Carolina offers plenty to explore, such as Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Great Smokey Mountains. If you’re looking for off road trails in NC, this article provides some of the best places to ride. So gear-up and get ready for an adventure.

Here are some of the best off road trails North Carolina has to offer:

  1. Brown Mountain Trail System
  2. Daniel TR 390
  3. Badin Lake Complex
  4. Musterground Trail
  5. Wash Creek Road
  6. Bent Creek Road
  7. Rockhouse Creek Road
  8. Jocassee Gorges
  9. Carolina Backwoods

Read on to learn more information about those trails, and why you should choose one of them for your next off-roading experience.

9 Best Off Road Trails in NC

1. Brown Mountain Trail System

Perfect for off-highway vehicles (OHVs), the Brown Mountain area has trails spanning a total of 34 miles. You’re less likely to lose your way because of the signs installed in different sections. Riders can also buy a map with complete details so they can maximize their itinerary.

Most of the Brown Mountain system trails are ideal for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and trail bikes. Four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles and Jeeps can also be used, but they’re only allowed in some areas.

Regardless of which type of vehicle you’ll use for off roading in NC, there are intermediate to difficult level trails to conquer. These more challenging locations are not recommended for groups with young children.

The Brown Mountain trail isn’t just about the wilderness. It also offers picnic areas, restrooms, general stores, grocery stores, grills, and fire rings. You’ll definitely need some breaks during your off-road adventure.

If you’re planning to extend your ride for more than 24 hours, there are available campsites, which make the Brown Mountain location quite popular for visitors.

2. Daniel TR 390

Since the Daniel TR 390 is just a single trail, it’s only 2.1 miles long. However, it’s one of the most difficult off road trails NC has to offer. It’s perfect for pro riders who are looking for a challenge. Despite the risky terrain, a lot of people still visit this location.

The Daniel TR 390 is open even during rainy days, which will only increase the level of thrill for adrenaline junkies. Nobody is required to make a reservation to travel this trail.

Like the trail system we’ve discussed earlier, camping is also allowed in the Daniel TR 390 area. Just remember to be responsible for your trash. Don’t worry; you’ll see garbage cans almost anywhere.

Since parking is also essential, the Cotton Place Trailhead will always be available for vehicles that successfully reach the Daniel TR 390 trail’s most challenging area.

3. Badin Lake Complex

Specifically located in the Uwharrie National Forest, the Badin Lake Complex is packed with NC off road trails suited for motorized vehicles like 4WDs, ATVs, utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), and dirt bikes. One of the best things about trail systems in national forests like the Badin Lake area is the presence of well-developed and safe campsites. Expect showers and different types of toilets if you want to camp out after a long day of exploring trails.

Whether you want an easy or hard trail, the Badin Lake system has it all. It includes eight trails that are within the easiest to the most challenging range. That’s why you need to coordinate with proper authorities to gain complete knowledge about the entire complex, preventing the danger of passing a difficult trail by mistake. And, since the complex is composed of different 4×4 trails in NC, you have the choice to go somewhere more private or with many people around.

Jeep Trail Off-Road Adventure

Daniel TR 390, the one we discussed earlier, is included in the Badin Lake trail system. It’s the most challenging section. If you want easier trails, here are the other seven options: Dickey Bell, Dutch John, Falls Dam, Rocky Mountain Loop, Sawmill, Slab Pile, and Wolf Den.

4. Musterground Trail

Approximately 13 miles in length, the Musterground trail is neither too easy nor too hard to pass through. That’s why it’s ideal for both occasional travelers and adrenaline junkies. It’s also an impressive location for nature lovers, social media users, and photographers because of the lush forest within and different bodies of water near the area. Fishing enthusiasts and hikers will surely appreciate the surroundings.

Musterground Trail is also suitable for your pet if you want your companion to join you. The gravel terrain is generally dog-friendly, so there’s no need to worry.

As for the vehicles that are usually used on this trail, ATVs and 4WDs are quite popular. There are steep slopes and slightly big rocks in the area if you want some ATV challenges.

If you’re worried about the possibility of muddy grounds, the soil isn’t too mushy when wet. Vehicles can easily handle the size and depth of the puddles.

5. Wash Creek Road

About 11 miles long, the Wash Creek Road is perfect if you prefer an off-road trail that’s more secluded so you can feel the adventure. Despite light traffic in the area, the dirt and gravel trail is good enough for both beginners and expert drivers. It’s more on the easier side, though, because you don’t need a 4WD to survive the journey. Several people even used minivans.

If you need to camp out, it’s not hard to find the right areas. Both sides of the trail have decent campsites. It also has a picturesque river where you can take as many shots as you want while exploring for the rest of the day. And, if you’ll explore more carefully, you’ll find a beautiful grassy section.

For an unforgettable adventure, you can have a long run on this trail. You’ll surely appreciate some parts of the trail ascending higher and higher.

6. Bent Creek Road

Like the Wash Creek Road because of the river, light traffic, and easy dirt-gravel terrain, the Bent Creek Road is an excellent destination for off-road adventures without a 4WD and nature treks. However, it’s only around four miles, which is much shorter than the former option.

If you want to walk around a bit, there are several parking spots despite the small size. You can also take in the surroundings more memorably by staying in the overlook. The view gets more beautiful during sunset.

As for the end of the trail, you can pass through a tunnel, which is quite cool. The forest feel is pretty refreshing even though the trip is shorter than other locations.

If you’re also planning to go to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Bent Creek Road’s endpoint is just below it. You’ll see more picturesque spots if you extend your trip to Blue Ridge.

7. Rockhouse Creek Road

Even shorter than the Bent Creek Road, Rockhouse Creek Road is almost three miles only. It’s also a forest road but with moderate difficulty for different kinds of activities. Aside from off-road driving, it’s great for camping, hiking, and running as well.

Adventures on this trail are even better for beginners if their vehicle uses all-terrain (AT) tires. Other than the fact that AT tires are designed for off-road places, they’re also better at handling impact from the occasional bumps in this area.

You should also know that this location has different sections. The first part is narrower, the next one is ideal for people and vehicles since the State itself maintains it, and the rest of the trail has campsites.

8. Jocassee Gorges

From the easy to moderate trails we’ve discussed, let’s proceed to a more difficult one this time. The Jocassee Gorges trail has terrain with lots of rocks, hence the rough surface. It’s also quite unpredictable since it includes hills, muddy sections, and bodies of water. While it’s risky for beginners, it can be one of the most exciting locations for experienced drivers.

Travel for a few more miles, and you’ll be able to reach the steel bridge. That area is perfect for scenic photographs and selfies. Lastly, don’t miss the campsites and–of course–the views of Lake Jocassee. The lake is technically in South Carolina, but since it’s in the northwest part of that State, you can see parts of the lake in some NC trails like this one.

9. Carolina Backwoods

Built explicitly for ATV enthusiasts, the Carolina Backwoods is a fun destination. If you’re someone who always prepares for any trip, you don’t need to make an itinerary for this place because the business itself will facilitate the tour.

And the best part? First-time ATV users can learn the basics there, making it an excellent spot for families.

What should you expect? Aside from trails, the location has open areas for beginners and hills for experts.

Linville Gorge Hills Landscape in North Carolina

Conclusion – 9 Best Off Road Trails in NC

To summarize, these locations have the best off road trails in North Carolina:

  1. Brown Mountain Trail System
  2. Daniel TR 390
  3. Badin Lake Complex
  4. Musterground Trail
  5. Wash Creek Road
  6. Bent Creek Road
  7. Rockhouse Creek Road
  8. Jocassee Gorges
  9. Carolina Backwoods

Finally, you can now have a concrete plan to explore NC as soon as you take our suggested locations to heart. Just make sure to consider your current skill level to keep your adventures safe and fun.

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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