NC off-roading from the mountains to the coast

Posted June 28, 2017 11:22 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:05 p.m. EDT

This story was written for our sponsor,

From Hatteras Island to the Tennessee border, North Carolina is rich with off-road trails and terrain that tourists and residents alike use annually.

With multiple off-roading sites across the state, N.C. is a great state to take a four-wheeling tour, no matter your skill level. Both beach and mountain lovers have many options in this state.

"Uwharrie National Forest, just outside Asheboro, is the closest off-road trail system to the Triangle Area," said Mark Bowerman, a sales consultant at Leith Chrysler-Jeep in Raleigh. "If you head a little farther out to the Tennessee border, you can find some great rocky terrain in places like Coal Creek or Windrock."

For beach lovers, Bowerman pointed out there are a number of options for exploring the N.C. coast.

"We have maps accessible to all of our customers, as well as Tread Lightly materials to promote safe and responsible off roading," Bowerman noted.

Leith : Spotlight : Cape Hatteras

On the Outer Banks, off roaders can drive along the shores of Cape Hatteras by taking one of the 17 vehicle access ramps.

It is recommended that those driving on the beach lower their tire pressure, so those off roading on the beach will want to bring a low-pressure tire gauge, as well as a jack and a shovel, as required by the National Park Service.

It should also be noted that off-road vehicles are only allowed in certain areas, while other areas are reserved for plant and animal life conservation.

For the more experienced off roader, Uwharrie National Park is another favorite among enthusiasts. Spanning Montgomery, Randolph and Davidson counties, Uwharrie National Park has around 20 miles of rocky and wooded trails open from April through December.

Passes must be purchased beforehand, either online or at the park office in Troy, N.C.

Off roaders can also explore the Smoky Mountains at Parson's Branch Road. The eight-mile rustic road has 18 creek crossings through tough mountain terrain.

Parson's Branch Road is not considered to be friendly to the amateur off roader and was originally a trail used by the Cherokee and outlaws. The road is also known for connecting to the "Tail of the Dragon," which is notorious for having 318 curves in 11 miles.


One of the unique opportunities those looking to off road can take advantage of is the Land Rover Experience Driving School. This course is set up around the Biltmore Estate outside of Asheville.

Those who sign up can customize the course to fit their needs and experience level. An off roading coach will take the student deep into the thousands of acres around one of the state’s great landmarks.

The lessons cover side tilts, uphill, downhill, road obstructions and many other basics of expedition-style driving.

For people considering getting into off roading as a hobby, this is one way to learn how to drive off the highway. The full day experience can even include a picnic lunch along the way.

Leith : Spotlight : Jeep Off Roading


With all of North Carolina's landmarks and off-roading sites to explore, you'll want to make sure your four-wheel-drive vehicle has the best gear and high-performance parts before you hit the trail.

While Jeep and Land Rover vehicles are already designed with off roading in mind, Chris Whitaker, wholesale parts manager at Leith Chrysler-Jeep in Raleigh, says there are enhancements that will take your 4x4 to the next level.

"Jeep vehicles are some of the most capable vehicles, even in their stock showroom condition," Whitaker said. "There's a wide range of customization options for Jeep enthusiasts -- like lift kits from 2.5 to 4 inches to accommodate 35 to 37 inch tires; this gives you greater ground clearance as well as improved approach and departure angles."

Whitaker added there are several heavy-duty bumpers and body protection options to consider to protect your Jeep.

"These heavy-duty bumpers are the perfect mounting spot for winches when the going gets a little sticky," he said. "There's also a wide array of LED off roading lights that allow you to extend your fun well into the evening hours."

This story was written for our sponsor,