Millions of years ago magma cooled to form a bizarre granite outcropping known as 40-Acre Rock. Many unusual stories are told about the flat rock and some of the world’s rarest plant life can be found here. The rock is known as Devil’s Footprint and was used in spiritual ceremonies dating back to the Catawba Indians.
Even though walking across the surface feels more analogous to the moon than granite rock, life has still managed to take root. On this barren rock, plants somehow manage to strive and survive. Some red cedars are even known to have lived for over 200 years. The rarest inhabitant is called a Pool Sprite and lives inside depressions called solution pools. These solution pools are created naturally by water gradually breaking up the granite over incredible periods of time. Unfortunately, the best time to see this is in March.
•Folktales & Graffiti•
Much of the habitat has been ruined by its visitors. Teenagers spray paint graffiti and build campfires. At night the rock is known to be used by cults in ritual ceremonies. Walking across the surface I noticed shards of broken glass from beer bottles reflecting the sunlight. Recently kids must have been here partying. Another complaint has been Four wheelers tearing up a lot of the habitat.
Many refer to specific impressions in the rock as “Devil’s Footprint”. The story is different depending on who you ask. It is found just outside a nearby cave. The impressions seem to come and go. Sometimes you can find them and at other times not at all. When the footprints are deep and easy to see wait till dusk and venture inside just a few feet. Out of the darkness within, you will see crimson eyes and a feeling that welcomes you in. Some say the cave is over 2 miles deep and those foolish enough wash back up in the Lynches River nearby.
I didn’t find cult members or the entrance to any cave. It wasn’t even the right season to see the red Pool Sprites littering the shallow pools. The trails were enjoyable and looking over a vista which revealed where Piedmont touches Sandhills was exceptional. This is definitely somewhere I will be revisiting again in the spring.
Location: 34.66864, -80.52615