This website is comprised of work that is the result of many years of intensive research. It was created to share valuable cultural knowledge with people who are interested in Cherokee history, especially those from the communities of the Qualla Boundary and surrounding areas. Using Google Earth as the principle tool, we can vividly visit places that formerly could only be accessed by photographs, written descriptions, or field trips. In order to protect cultural resources, no archaeological, sacred, or sensitive materials will be displayed on the site.

Teaching Mapping

Click here to learn more about Wild South and trail research.

It has taken years of studying rare historic maps, records, and documents to lay the groundwork that enables the production of a master map whereby a network of old Indian trails can be overlaid onto modern roadmaps, Google Earth and GIS mapping. To date, Wild South has logged well over a thousand miles of trails and located about sixty Cherokee towns and settlements.

From the ancient paths along the Nantahala, Cowee, Snowbird, Blue Ridge, and Great Smoky Mountains, to the port city of modern Charleston, these byways are significant travel arteries that bind the Cherokee landscape together, providing a glimpse into the world of Cherokee geography, culture, and history. This research could not be completed without the help of the older generation of Cherokee people and the collective memory that recalls the trails and roads used by parents and grandparents.

After five years of research, the big picture is emerging. Wild South is submitting research to the National Forest Service that documents about 200 miles of trail across four different states. Forest management planning must include trail designation and protection, as required by the National Historic Preservation Act, if these significant cultural resources are to be preserved.

By walking these ancient trails, we are traveling through corridors of time. Today, people can stand in the deeply worn recesses of an ancient trail and look at the surrounding mountains with the assurance that they are experiencing the shapes, colors, ridge tops, balds, and wooded slopes from exactly the same viewpoint seen by the Cherokee as they walked a thousand years ago. Whether you explore the trails online or in person, Wild South invites you to experience the Cherokee Journey.