Tucked away in Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, an easy not-quite-a-mile walk from the Reedy Creek Nature Center, is the last thing you might expect to find in the woods — the ruins of a stone house built in the late 1700s.
The Robinson Rock House was re-discovered by UNC Charlotte archaeologists in 1982. They conducted a study and stabilized and partially restored a corner of the house in 1985.
You can learn about the history of the Robinson Rock House from this historical overview from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historical Landmarks Commission.
The hike to Robinson Rock House itself is a pleasant walk through a diverse landscape. Start out at the Reedy Creek Nature Center, within Reedy Creek Park, 2900 Rocky River Road.
The nature center is currently closed, but you can pick up a map at a kiosk outside of it. The detailed trail map will show you how to get to Robinson Rock House, as well several ponds, a fishing pier, a disc golf course, picnic areas, sports fields, a dog park and playgrounds.
The map indicates that part of the trail to the rock house is closed. It’s open now, although there might be other trails throughout the nature preserve that are still closed.
In all there are over 10 miles of hiking trails within Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, but the hike from the nature center to Robinson Rock House is approximately .93 miles.Our library of hikes
As you walk past the nature center you’ll pass a Little Free Library, where you can take or leave a book, and a picnic pavilion. There’s also a nature playground, which is temporarily off limits.
You’ll start out on the Umbrella Tree Trail, which is also marked as Big Oak Trail at that point.
The trail here is level, fairly wide, and heavily wooded. The dense tree canopy provides a cool and shady experience, even in the summer — thus the name, Umbrella Tree Trail.
When you get to South Fork Trail, turn left. The woods open up a little bit here.
After a bit you’ll cross a bridge and come to an interesting spot, where you can participate in some citizen science. Look for this sign:
Put your phone on that spot, in landscape mode, and take a picture. Then upload it to social media with the hashtag #newReedyCreek. The hashtag is used to collect pictures of that one spot, over time, season by season, year by year.
When we were there, in June, the field was filled with Black Eyed Susans.
Look for the hashtag #NewReedyCreek on Twitter to see what that spot has looked like at other times.
Keep walking and turn right at the Sierra Loop Trail. This leads you over one of the prettiest creeks on the hike.
Very soon after that you’ll get to the Robinson Rock House Trail, where you’ll turn right.
This trail will lead you to the ruins of the Robinson Rock House. Take some time to explore. This house was built around 1790 by Robert Robinson. The fact that it was built of stone instead of wood shows that he was a person of great means.
When UNC Charlotte archaeologists studied it they learned that it had large entry steps, which you can still see, two large living rooms with fireplaces, a 3rd floor attic.
This is an easy hike for kids, and the destination is one that sparks their imagination. They can think about what life was like for the Robinsons. It’s also a great place to enjoy a snack after the hike.
Next to the stone house are ruins of a different kind. An immense fallen Osage Orange tree is wonderfully complex and is nearly impossible for kids to resist climbing around on.
Arborists estimate that this tree was planted around 1770. It fell during an ice storm in 1987.
At this point, you can just retrace your steps and head back to the nature center. You’re sure to see something you missed on the way!Subscribe to Charlotte on the Cheap