Ray Mica Mine

Updated May 11th, 2023

The Ray Mine is one of the oldest and most famous of the old mica mines. Excellent examples of spruce pine pegmatite material can be found there. Especially fine examples of "rum" mica some with black tourmaline inclusions can be found.  The Ray Mine is one of the best sites in the area to find Aquamarine.  It can be found by searching through surface material or by the digging and sifting technique. In 2012, the US Forrest service instituted digging restrictions for the Ray Mine area and avoidance policies for shafts due to bat preservation issues.  I have found nice samples of mica and black tourmaline in the quartz/feldspar matrix the creek alongside the trail up the mountain. No digging in the creek! Up the hill in the vicinity of the mine shafts is a large mine dump area (tailings). Surface collecting using hand tools is permitted in this area.  There is an approved digging area above the mine shafts. As my information is about five years old, I suggest you check with the US Forrest Service before collecting at the Ray Mine area; District Ranger, Appalachian Ranger District at (828) 689- 9694 (office) or (970) 309-0367 (cell) for the latest information before collecting at the Ray Mica Mine.

Directions to the parking area at the Ray Mica Mine trailhead:

From Burnsville take Rt 197 South (The Pensacola Road) for .7 miles
Turn Left on Bolens Creek Road for 1.4 miles
Turn Left on Ray Mine Road to the top of the hill

GPS Coordinates:
N 35 deg. 53.241 min.
W 082 deg. 16.733 min.

The Pisgah National Forest land begins at the post with the yellow and black poster on the right in the picture. There is a small parking on National Forest land in front of the post. Overflow parking is on private land.  I had permission from the owner for my tours to as long as we didn't park in front of his mail box. He does not want any payment.
This a map of the Ray Mine area.  The hatched area above the shafts is the authorized digging area.


This a larger scale of the Ray Mine area. 

The old road which is adjacent to the digging area leads up to the ridge line where there is an old Kyanite Mine.

Ray Mine Trail Head

You may surface collect in the stream;
 but no digging!

My wife Diana joined me on occasion when I was researching a mine site.

Hike up the hill toward the tailings.
You may surface collect along the trail but no digging!

Ray Mine Shaft #1
Tailings at the top of the image downslope
 from the shaft

 Shaft #2

Minerals that can be found at the Ray Mica Mine

In it's producing years, thee Ray Mine was mined for high quality muscovite mica.
But, most rock hounds who come to the Ray Mine these days are more interested in finding Aquamarine!

Aquamarine in Feldspar

I found this sample of Aquamarine with potash feldspar in the mine tailings near the shafts.

Most Aquamarine hunters now search for Aquamarine by digging in the authorized digging area.

Partial Common Beryl crystal
 in Quartzite matrix

Muscovite Mica (Rum Mica) in Feldspar

Black tourmaline crystals in Muscovite mica on Feldspar

Blades of blue Kyanite in Quartzite

lf you hike up the road next to the authorized digging area at Ray Mine toward the ridge line you might find some blue Kyanite in Quartzite along the trail from above the Ray Mine, along the trail past Mt. Celo all the way to Mount Mitchell.

The sample to the left was collected along the Black Mountains ridge line.

Website and images by Robert S "Bo" Smith