A trip along the Gold Hill Rail-Trail through this historic village will transport you back to a time when North Carolina was the country's only gold-producing state. Signs posted every few hundred feet along the mile-long dirt and gravel path detail the history of mining in the state.
While gold was unofficially discovered here in 1799 by a 12-year-old boy, in its glory days Gold Hill was the richest mining property east of the Mississippi.
The trail begins about 100 yards past the junction of St. Stephens Church Road and Baptist Church Road. There's no sign or even a clear path to indicate that the strip of grass along the road is a trail, but if you want the full history lesson, park at St. Stephen's and backtrack to this point.
On the route back to your car, you'll pass the old Randolph Shaft, a miner's field, the powder house and the assay office, where miners staked their claims and weighed their gold. Just past the assay office is the first historical marker. Cross the street here to join the clearly defined gravel trail.
Much of the onward trail passes through forest, so keep watch for wildlife, such as deer and broadtail hawks. There are a few swampy patches; be prepared for a muddy trek if you visit following a rainstorm.
End the trail at the old Union Gold and Copper Mine site in Cabarrus County. The view of the ruins is almost breathtaking. Hikers must stay on the trail so as not to trespass on private property.
Back in the village, check out the various historic buildings that have been restored as cafés, antique shops and museums.
Parking and Trail Access
Take I-85 to Exit 76 and head south on US Highway 52. In Gold Hill, turn right at the post office on Doby Drive, a quick left on Old US Highway 80 and a quick right on St. Stephens Church Road. Park at St. Stephen's Church or in the small lot across the road. The trailhead lies back up the road, just shy of the St. Stephens Church/Baptist Church intersection. Contact:
Historic Gold Hill & Mines Foundation
P.O. Box 206
Gold Hill, NC 28071