Rockhounding in Asheville

A Map and Descriptions on rock and mineral collecting locations near Asheville, NC

HONORS 492 Project

This website was formulated as part of a semester project for my honors senior colloquium class at the Unviersity of North Carolina at Asheville. The purpose of this project is to identify rock and mineral collection sites in Western North Carolina accessible to the public. Collection sites will be chosen with the aid of Richard Jacquot's book Rock, Gem, and Mineral Collecting Sites in Western North Carolina. I will visit at least three collection sites to conduct personal inspection and compose descriptions of the area. Rocks and minerals collected at these sites will be geologically analyzed and identified. Information about rocks and minerals found in each site will be considered. Collaboration with the North Carolina Geological Survey and the 42nd Forum on Industrial Minerals will aid in geological research and maps needed for this project. Historically, Western North Carolina is known for its fine gems and minerals and mining practices. Currently, limited resources are provided to aid in the pursuit of geological collecting in Western North Carolina. The final product of this project will consist of a map created with Google Earth outlining collection sites near Asheville. All information and data collected will be posted on this website, making this information more accessible to the public.

Tools Helpful to Bring Along While Rock Collecting

  • Rock Pick
  • Water
  • Backpack
  • Saftey Glasses
  • Helment (for visitation to mines)
  • 10x hand lens
  • 3-lb sledgehammer
  • rock chisel

Sites Visited

The following sites were actually visited and inverstigated as part of this project and are described in futher detail below:

  • Nantahala Talc & Limestone
  • Chalk Mountain
  • Ray Mine
  • Little Pine Garnet Mine
  • Walker Creek Kyanite
  • Grimshaw Mine
  • Sheepcliff Aquamarine Mine
  • Black Mountain Kyanite & Sapphire

Rockhounding Map: Shows locations of visited sites (and others in Western North Carolina). Locations are marked based on GPS locations. Directions from UNC Asheville or any other location to these sites can be determined using Google Earth by using the directions finder in the top lefthand corner. A program called iTag was used to attach pictures of the sites I visited to their GPS location. Click on the blue link below or the image of the map. Save the file to your computer and view in Google Earth. If you do not have Google Earth, it can be downloaded for free at:

Google Earth Map of Collecting Sites in Western NC

Directions to Little Pine Mine found using Google Earth

Nantahala Talc & Limestone

Active quarry processing materials

Picnic at the mine before collecting at the Nantahal Talc & Limestone Mine (I am sitting in front with the red shirt)

History: This mine was opened in 1890 and mined continuously, mainly for talc, until 1925 when it became cheaper for North Carolina for import talc from forgien countries instead of mine their own. Today the mine produces dolomite limestone gravel. (Privately Owned)

Minerals: Talc (can be found in dump piles), pink, yellow, purple, blue and green marble.

WNC Rocks Site for Nantahala Talc & Limestone


Chalk Mountain

History: This mine produces the most highly fluorescent hyalite opal in the world. Must use a shortwave UV light and search for minerals at night. The mine was established to produce feldspar, quartz, and mica used in ceramics, light bulbs, etc. (Privately owned by Feldspar Corporation)

Minerals: Hyalite opal, autunite, torbernite


Ray Mica Mine

History: These mines have been worked for mica since the 1800s. There are several nice mica specimens here, but rockhounds visit to collect beryl crystals (National Forest Service).

Minerals: Beryl Crystals, flourescent apatite, garnet, tourmaline (schorl), mica, amazonstone, green tourmaline, thulite

Little Pine Garnet Mine

History: This mine was worked on and off since 1993 for abrasive garnet and at one time gem quality almandine garnet. According to Mr. Jack Ball and Rick Jacquot's book, childern used to take garnet crystals disgarded in the dump piles that were not good enough to use as gems and roll them down the hill into the creek for fun. Often these garnets were the size of bowling balls. Today nice sized garnets can still be found, especially on the hill above the attit. The above picture to the left shows the ref markings left behind from a single garnet. The right shows columns that hold up the rock inside the attit. (Located on Private Property: must pay $5 to collect at Davis Grocery Store you will pass on the way there)

Minerals: Large Almandine Garnet Crystals


Walker Creek Kyanite


These images are borrowed from

History: This site is located on the National Forest Service Land and can be collected on my any willing rockhounds. Kyanite is usually found in a specific vien of the rock at this site. Locating the vien that contains kyanite will help when collecting at this site.

Minerals: Large blue kyanite crystals, garnet, schorl (black tourmaline), mica, apatite. You can find great boulders of kyanite and qaurtz in the creek. Crack them open with a sledgehammer. Clean off rust iron stain with any iron removing chemical you find in the cleaning section of the grocery or hardware store.


Grimshaw Mine

Photo from

History: The above photo is of sapphires and other minerals found at the Grimshaw Mine. I had trouble locating this site and feel like the land it is located on has been sold from its previous owner (Forest Service) to developers. Unfortunately, I was not able to find or collect at this site.

Minerals: Ruby, Sapphire, Corundum


Sheepcliff Aquamarine Mine

History: This site was once an old Emerald Mine and was recently bought by housing developers when Jocquot's Book was published in 2003. I attempted to visit the site in Spring 2007. I found the area where I was supposed to park according to Jacquot's Book, but then had trouble finding lot 8, where the site was located. Housing had been developed in a mountain top home view style across the entire mountain. I talked to some locals that said their house was located next door to the house that had an old emerald mine behind it. The lady that answered the door told me that the mine looked a lot different than it did in the book (image above on left) because a lot of landscaping had been done. No one was home at the house next door with the emerald mine behind it, but there was a flowing creek and a landscape that looked similar to the picture on the left (more recent image on right). This site contained fragments of quartz and orange/yellow feldspar in the stream, which leads me to believe that this was the Sheepcliff Aquamarine Mine, only it had been developed over to build a mountain home.

Minerals: Beryl Crystals, Aquamarine, Smoky Quartz, yellow, orange, pink feldspar


Black Mountain Kyanite and Sapphire

(I haven't been here, but this is for Dr. Katie Peters so she can collect here by here house before she has to leave. This part of my website is quoted from the Book Rock, Gem, and Mineral Collecting Sites in Western North Carolina by Richard James Jacquot Jr. This book was my main source in my travels and this project.)

Site: "Walk East down the hill into the woods past the houses on McCoy Cove Road. Behind the houses about 75 yards is a small creek. Follow the creek bed south and look for masses of kyanite. The kyanite is a pale blue color and some contains nice blue sapphires up to 1/4 inches in size. I have seen some sapphires from here that were 1" across but these are rare. Look closely at the rocks in the creek, some of the kyanite is black from weathering but it will clean up. You can find this material approximately 1000 yards south along the creek from where you park. The residents along the road here have always granted me permission to collect, you may ask at one of the houses along the road to double check. You will need to break the larger boulders down into manageable size pieces to remove them. There is no fee to collect here. This is a safe place to collect and minerals can be collected in any season, weather permitting."

Directions: "From Asheville, North Carolina, take I-40 to exit 64, turn left onto NC highway 9 North, follow this into town, turn right onto US highway 70 East, follow to Flat Creek Road (SR 2515) turn left and immediately right onto E State Street-US 70, drive 0.5 miles to McCoy Cove Road, turn left, drive 0.8 miles o Charmeldee-Sky Hi Acres residential neighborhood, park out of the roadway near the entrance to Charmeldee."

Minerals: Small to large size boulders of kyanite with sapphire

Another link for Map:

Google Earth Map of Collecting Sites in Western NC


Contact Information:

Lisa Schleicher Email

Updated Last on April 30, 2007