Who knows what you can find hiding in the wilderness of North Carolina? While our rich American history dates back to some of the earliest European settlements, there’s also a whole other world of history and ruins from far before that. From way back to now, these trails not only walk you through beautiful scenery but also offer a firsthand glimpse at history.
1. Judaculla Rock
Located in Sylva and hiding in the mountains of Jackson County, Judaculla Rock is beyond mysterious with petroglyphs dating back some 3,000 years. Throughout the years since first discovered, archaeologists and researchers have tried to decipher what exactly the rock means and what its original purpose was. For the full story on this spooky yet interesting find, and how to get there, read our piece
2. Fort Raleigh
Fort Raleigh is believed to be the site of where the original Lost Colony called home. Archaeological discoveries indicate a settlement dating back between 1585-1590. While no one has solved the true mystery of The Lost Colony, today, this section of Roanoke Island has been set aside and reconstructed as an example of where they would have lived.
3. Morrow Mountain State Park
While Morrow Mountain is perfect for an adventurous day trip and comes included with plenty of hiking trails, archaeological discoveries here are abundant and interesting. Many of the unearthed quarry sites here were used for thousands of years by Native Americans as sources for raw materials and chipped-stone tools. The rhyolitev (the stone) is found on the mountain's summit. See firsthand examples at the Visitor Center.
4. Town Creek Indian Mound
While Town Creek Indian Mound is easily discoverable with no major hiking or trails required, it's still a fascinating part of North Carolina history. Town Creek Indian Mound has been extensively excavated and restored by archaeologists and today what you get is a great reconstruction of Pee Dee Culture dating back to 1000-1600 AD. Town Creek is open year round and includes a platform mound, circular mortuary house, sacred square ground, and a reconstructed ceremonial center.
5. Bethabara Historic Park
Much like above, Bethabara is an easy drive-up with grounds and enchanting gardens to explore the rich Moravian history in the area. While many look to Old Salem or Bethania for that history, Bethabara was one of the first Moravian settlements in North Carolina. Archaeological discoveries like the foundations of buildings and homes dated back to the late 18th century. Reconstructed buildings let you re-experience history for yourself.
6. Brunswick Town
For a ghost town that is a little more heavy on the beauty factor and less on the creepy factor, Brunswick Town is an interesting place to spend a day. This abandoned Colonial-era village contains a wealth of history as well as ruins. Read our full article on the history, how to get there and what to see once you're there
7. Endor Iron Furnace
This one will require a bit of a walk through the woods, and if you're going during summer be especially careful for snakes and spiders (eek!). Located in Cumnock this one isn't so much 'ancient' as it is 'interesting.' Built in 1861, the furnace was in operation until 1864 due to large iron deposits on the Deep River. It was also used by the Confederate Army during the Civil War.