The Blue Ridge Heritage Trail is an initiative of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.
The project was made possible by Federal Highway Transportation Enhancement funding administered through the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Haywood County, NC.
Explore the Heritage Trail
Explore a Trail of Heritage Treasures in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains
Welcome to the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail, a collection of special places throughout the North Carolina mountains and foothills that embody the remarkable history and culture of the region. At each location, you will find an interpretive wayside sign that tells the stories of the people and places that have shaped our distinctive heritage.
This website is your online guide to the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail – the sites, the land, and its people. Here you can explore and learn more about a place so special that it is designated as a National Heritage Area.
Here’s a glimpse into what you can find along the Blue Ridge Heritage Trail. Make the trail your own by searching for the themes, activities, and towns that interest you.
North Carolina Historic Sites
The trail includes 24 historic sites in Western North Carolina that recall the stories of Native Americans, explorers, mountaineers, revolutionaries, entrepreneurs, and more. Visit historic homes, from the grand Biltmore House to log cabin homesteads. Tour landmarks like the Bechtler Mint or the Old Wilkes Jail. Explore museums from the Rural Heritage Museum to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Drive historic roads and enjoy traditional downtowns.
Music and the Arts
The people of the Blue Ridge have distinguished themselves in a variety of art forms. You can experience Cherokee culture through crafts, storytelling, drama, and dance. Enjoy Appalachian traditions of old time and bluegrass music. Follow a quilt trail or a trail of frescoes by renowned painter Ben Long. Visit the childhood home of author Thomas Wolfe. Or witness sweeping outdoor dramas.
The Cherokee and their ancestors have lived in the Blue Ridge region for over 12,000 years. You can experience this deep rooted culture by visiting the town of Cherokee, where exceptional museums and cultural events await you. But Cherokee heritage extends far beyond the Qualla Boundary, to places like Cheoah and Konehete. Visit the sites of rediscovered Native American villages or see 1,500 year old petroglyphs at Judaculla Rock.
Enjoy pastoral landscapes and savor fresh, locally grown foods, as you experience this region’s close connection with the land. You can visit historic farms and plantations, lively farmers markets, working apple orchards and more. Don’t miss the Cradle of Forestry, where forest management practices were reenvisioned.
For many of us, it’s the beauty of nature that keeps bringing us back to the Blue Ridge Mountains. No matter how much time you’ve spent in this part of Appalachia, there’s always more of its natural heritage to discover—waterfalls, hot springs, lost coves, scenic overlooks, hiking trails, white water rafting, mountain lakes, fishing holes, and even gem mining.