You don’t have to travel far to visit a historically and geologically interesting site. Big Rock Nature Preserve, at 6500 Elmstone Drive, is near Stonecrest at Piper Glen, a large shopping center in Ballantyne. When you follow the directions you might think you’re on the wrong path, since you have to actually enter a neighborhood to get there, but you’re not. The entrance to the preserve is on the right as you drive into the neighborhood. Just park along the street and walk in. You’ll see the sign.
The significant feature of the preserve is impossible to miss. There are several clusters of giant rocks. “Giant” is no exaggeration. The rocks here are the largest known exposed boulders in Mecklenburg County, by a long shot.
It’s pretty majestic. When you’re walking around, try to keep the music in this video in your mind:
The formation is historically significant as well. Archaeological investigations have unearthed American Indian artifacts from as early as 7,000 years ago. Among the findings were a variety of stone and bone tools, a musket ball. A two-sided stone tool or biface was was identified as a Morrow Mountain projectile point (c. 5500 to 4500 B.C.E.). The Native American materials recovered date from three principal periods: Early Woodland (c. 600-100 B.C.E.), Mississippian (c. 1300-1450 C.E.), and Late Woodland (c. 1650-1850 C.E.).
The site has been designated an Historical Landmark by the Charlotte Historic Landmarks Commission.
It’s thought that the site was used as a campsite, rendezvous site and observation point for the first humans who lived in what is now Mecklenburg County.
If you visit, especially with kids, take a moment to read “A Young Visitor’s Guide to Big Rock,” which is at the entrance of the preserve.
Unfortunately, some of the rocks are marred by graffiti, but hopefully that won’t detract too much from your enjoyment and appreciation of their magnitude and significance.