Hikes With a Historian: Ray Mica Mine Hike (Sold Out!)

  • September 20, 2023 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Ray Mine

    Burnsville, North Carolina
Ticket Price Free This event is now over

Join the Asheville Museum of History (AMoH) Wednesday, September 20 at 9AM as we hike to a former mica mine near Burnsville, North Carolina. This event is free but registration is required. Carpooling is necessary as parking is limited. 

This event is now sold out but a waitlist is available at registration.

Join us as we explore the geologic and human history of mining in the Spruce Pine region. We are led by Dr. William Miller, a geologist, and Trevor Freeman, public programs director for the Asheville Museum of History. Local resident John Bennett may join us to discuss some his family history and more about the local mines nearby. 


The Mine

The Ray Mine is located in one of scores of igneous rock bodies in the Spruce Pine mining district which began as magmas that were injected into an existing bedrock formation known as the Ashe Metamorphic Suite 375-400 million years ago. The intrusion is made of coarsely crystalline granodiorite which is composed of feldspar, quartz, and muscovite mica, plus lesser amounts of other minerals, including tourmaline, beryl, and apatite.

The Ray was sporadically mined mainly for high quality muscovite from about 1867 until the 1940s. Compared to its sister intrusions currently being mined for high purity quartz and feldspar in Spruce Pine, the Ray is rather puny but one of few designated mineral collecting localities in the National Forest where visitors are allowed to take home the minerals they find on the ground surface and can easily carry.

Nine small shafts/cuts occur at the mine, but they are either partially fenced off and filled with rubble or overgrown with vegetation. The mine site now looks like most other nearby hills but with mineral and rock specimens strewn about.




Meet:  We will carpool from the Roses parking lot in the center of Burnsville, departing at 9:00 AM at the SE corner of US 19E and Reservoir Road intersection. Parking is very limited at the trailhead.

Return to Roses: Approximately 12noon

Hike Length: Approximately 1 mile total, out and back.

Hike Difficulty: Moderate (using National Park Service metric) but rocky and relatively steep

*This is a backcountry hike in a remote area. Please do not attempt if you are unsure of your ability.*

*With a small trailhead parking area, we are limited to 5 vehicles. Please let us know if you prefer to be a driver or passenger when you sign the waiver form*

 *Participants may wish to carpool to the initial meeting location at Roses in Burnsville, NC. You will be asked about your preference upon registration, and those interested will be put in contact with one another*


What to Bring:

  • Backpack
  • Plenty of water (1 liter)
  • Bagged lunch or snacks
  • Hiking boots or comfortable trail shoes
  • Weather-appropriate clothing (preferably no cotton)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Hat (recommended)
  • Any needed medications.
  • You may collect some mineral and rock specimens but only as much as you can carry in your pockets.
  • If you bring and use a rock hammer, always wear safety glasses and do not break rocks when other, unprotected people are nearby.

Rain Date: In the event of inclement weather, participants will be notified in advance, no later than 8PM the evening prior if the event is to be rescheduled. 


Tickets: This is a free event but registration and emergency contact waiver is required.

*Waiver and Emergency Contact: Registrants must fill out the emergency contact form in advance: https://forms.gle/iQpZAg3Q1RdcCZ1a8


Hike Leaders:

Dr. William Miller is professor emeritus at UNC Asheville where he was a professor of environmental studies. Miller focuses on metals, ores, and the geology of the Blue Ridge. He has served on several state and professional boards relating to mining and geology. He has also led several hikes to the Ray Mine. 

This hike is co-led by Trevor Freeman, AMoH public programs director. He has an MA in American history and is interested in both Appalachian and environmental history. He is also wilderness first aid/CPR certified.



For questions, please contact Trevor Freeman at eduation@ashevillehistory.org

(Image: UNCA students on a hike to the Ray Mine with Dr. Miller; An unidentified mica mine in North Carolina, courtesy Forest History Society)



Date & Time

Wed, Sep 20, 2023 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Venue Details

Ray Mine

Burnsville, North Carolina Ray Mine
Asheville Museum of History

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