Catawba and Northern Trail

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Migration  Gotoarrow.png  Trails and Roads  Gotoarrow.png  Catawba and Northern Trail

Catawba and Northern Trail.png
The Catawba and Northern Trail connected the Lower Cherokee towns (Lower Cherokee Traders' Path) and Catawba Indian villages in the Waxhaws with the Yadkin River settlements where it turned into the New River and Southern Trail. The Catawba and Northern Trail began in York County, South Carolina and ended in Wilkes County, North Carolina. The length of that journey was about 100 miles (160 km).

Historical Background

Originally an Indian path, this trail connected North Carolina's European Yadkin River settlements with the Waxhaws settlements and the Lower Cherokee towns mostly in South Carolina. These eventually provided as much as 1/4th of the European settlers in what became Tennessee.

The first European colonists settled in counties along this trail as follows:[1][2]


Counties on the Catawba and Northern Trail.[3]

Connecting trails. The Catawba and Northern Trail forks off north from the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path in York County, South Carolina. The Catawba and Northern Trail heads due north to the Yadkin River settlements (North Carolina) where it joins the New River and Southern Trail in Wilkes County.

Modern parallels. The modern roads that most closely match the old Catawba and Northern Trail are North Carolina State Highway 16 from Wilkesboro south to the Gaston County north border. From there a road parallel to the west side of the Catawba River such as NC State Highway 273 to South Carolina, and South Carolina State Road 274 south to Rock Hill would approximate the old route.

Settlers and Records

No lists of settlers who used the Catawba and Northern Trail are known to exist. However, local and county histories along the road may reveal that many of the first pioneer settlers arrived from places to the northeast along the route.

Most of the colonists in the the Yadkin River settlements and Waxhaws settlement were from the southeast corner of Pennsylvania. Many were from the Ulster part of Ireland. Other colonists may have reached the area from Maryland, or Virginia especially those areas near the Great Valley Road or Upper Road.


  1. North Carolina - The Counties, (accessed 1 February 2011).
  2. South Carolina - The Counties, (accessed 1 February 2011).
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), 848. (FHL Book 973 D27e 2002). WorldCat entry.