Mayan Myth Busting at Track Rock Gap
The Track Rock Gap rock art and stone landscape sites on the Chattahoochee National Forest were created by Creek and Cherokee people beginning more than 1,000 years ago. There is no archeological evidence of any Mayan connection to the sites. Learn more about how the Forest Service works closely with Creek and Cherokee tribal governments to manage, protect and better understand these important, sacred ceremonial sites. View a video of members of the Muscogee Creek Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians specializing in historic preservation debunking the Mayan myth, and explaining what the site means to their peoples and why it's so important to protect it.
Introduction to the Petroglyphs at Track Rock Gap
Tucked away in the gap between Thunderstruck Mountain and Buzzard Roost Ridge, history is written in stone. Track Rock Gap is the location of a series of rock carvings, or petroglyphs, made by Native Americans in Union County, Georgia on soapstone boulders. There are over a hundred carvings of a wide range of figures. It’s one of the most significant rock art sites in the Southeastern United States and the only such site located on public land in Georgia. Although it’s one of the best known rock art sites in the region, it was never completely recorded or studied before the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests sponsored research there in 2009. Please explore this site further to learn more about Track Rock and the findings of this research.
Have You Heard of ARPA?
ARPA stands for the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and that’s exactly what it does. ARPA is the law of the land and applies to all federal public lands, including the national forests.
Under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, information about the specific location of archaeological sites within the forest is exempt from public disclosure in order to protect fragile cultural resources (36 CFR296.18). It’s against the law to dig up, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any archaeological resource located on public lands. Severe criminal penalties exist for people who buy, sell, trade, transport or receive archaeological resources taken from public lands. If someone wants to conduct research, they must get a written permit from the USDA Forest Service after it has consulted with other agencies and Tribes. Careful guidelines and restrictions must be in place before the research begins.
You have an important role to play in the preservation of these archaeological sites. If you see or know of illegal activity, please contact one of our local offices.
There are several ways to look at rock art.
Describe each boulder and its carvings
Study the descriptions of the various figures and what they might signify.
Through stories the Cherokee told to early Americans and ethnographers about Track Rock
Consider the purpose for which they were carved.
See photos taken before and after the 2010 site renovation.
Visiting Track Rock
Track Rock Gap is open to public visitation and no fee is charged. We have several suggestions to enhance your visit. Please print the drawings of the boulders on this site to take with you. This will help you to identify the figures you see at the site. Intensity of natural lighting can influence how much you are able to see. Bright mid-day sun makes it hard to see most of the figures, and the best times to visit are early or late in the day, when the light is at a low angle. Please be respectful of other visitors and the people who made these carvings. Previous visitors removed pieces of the boulders, thus depriving future visitors of the chance to see what they thought was so special.
Take this handy fact sheet with you.
You can reach Track Rock Gap by taking US 129 to Blairsville, then US 76 east about 5 miles. At signs for Track Rock Gap Road, turn right for about 2 miles to the gap. Their location in the gap makes stopping beside the boulders very danger-ous. Drive on through the gap, noting the Track Rocks on the right, and look for the small parking lot on your right. Park there and take the trail back to the gap, safely from traffic.
From Hiawassee, go west on US 76, through the town of Young Harris, and about 5 miles to the turn-off south on Track Rock Gap Road.