Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina and is surrounded by beautiful streams & waterfalls

Franklin, N.C.

Nestled between two popular scenic gorges, the Cullasaja and the Nantahala, and surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest, Franklin, North Carolina is known for its wealth of natural beauty. The town is a great home base to discover the many adventures the mountains of Western North Carolina offer and has been awarded Best Small Town twice by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.

Whether you enjoy mountain vistas, waterfall hikes, shopping, or a great meal, Franklin has something to offer everyone. On a clear day, stand on top of Wayah Bald, situated along the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail, and gaze across the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains and into the Little Tennessee River below. Listen to the flowing water of the Nantahala River at the U.S. Forest Service’s Standing Indian Campground, or visit one of several waterfalls in the area.

Back in town, stroll along the Little Tennessee River Greenway to observe various birds and wildlife. Then pay a visit to numerous museums and gem mines, or refresh yourself at various restaurants and the two craft breweries, the Lazy Hiker and the Currahee. If you need gear for your next adventure, check out our homegrown outfitters, Outdoor ’76 and Three Eagles Outfitters. For more ideas, stop at the Macon County Public Library to learn about what other adventures await!

TOUR THE TOWN

  • Start with breakfast at any of the various restaurants throughout town.
  • Take an early morning stroll down the Little Tennessee River Greenway, starting at the FROGquarters, the FRiends Of the Greenway facility, which offers refreshments and restrooms. This is located on the right just before crossing the Little Tennessee River bridge at 573 East Main Street about .5 mile from town center. If you are a bird watcher, the Greenway is an excellent place to see a large variety of species.
  • Walk over to see the sacred tribal Nikwasi Mound, believed by the Cherokee to be 800 – 1,000 years old.
  • Stop by Outdoor ’76 or Three Eagles Outfitters for the latest news on what’s happening around Franklin and pick up any needed supplies for your outdoor adventures. www.outdoor76.com www.threeeaglesoutfitters.net
  • Explore a variety of museums, including the Gem & Mineral Museum and the Scottish Tartans Museum & Heritage Center in the downtown area. Franklin, known as the “Gem Capital of the World,” offers many gem mines where you can pan for gems, with most open from spring through autumn. Among the native stones found are ruby, sapphire and garnets.
  • Check out the Macon County Historical Museum at 36 West Main St. where you can find free trail guides and maps for the Women’s History Trail.
  • Enjoy a homemade vegetarian lunch at The Rathskeller Coffee House and Pub, or eat at the Mi Casa Mexican restaurant or dine at any of the other restaurants around town. www.rathskellerfranklin.com www.mexicanrestaurantfranklin.com
  • Take a short hike to one of the three fire towers that can be seen from town, Albert Mountain, Wayah Bald, and Wesser Bald, all on the Appalachian Trail and within short distances from parking areas. Want a longer hike? Check out the hike listings below or go to www.nantahalahikingclub.org/hike-schedule/.
  • Visit from the first day of spring until Earth Day, April 22, and join in the Franklin AT110 events each weekend. Local businesses and breweries celebrate A.T. hikers finishing their first 110 miles of the trail. Enjoy music, good food and great company, and maybe even chat up a hiker. Go to https://www.discoverfranklinnc.com/AT110/ for details and locations of events.
  • Plan your trip to coincide with Franklin’s numerous festivals throughout the year, including various Heritage Folk festivals. The annual Macon County Gemboree features fine gemstones, jewelry, rough and cut gemstones, minerals, fossils, and much more! Visit https://www.discoverfranklinnc.com/ for events and dates.
  • Vacation during May through September and hear “Pickin’ on the Square” every Saturday evening with different musicians performing everything from bluegrass to the oldies to country. See the schedule at https://franklinnc.com/pickin-on-the-square/
  • Hike the Bartram Trail, named for American botanist William Bartram, who documented the native flora and fauna of the area in 1775. The Bartram Trail has a trailhead parking area located right in town. www.ncbartramtrail.org/
  • End your day by visiting the two craft breweries, the Lazy Hiker Brewing and the Currahee Brewing Company, or any of the various restaurants around town. www.lazyhikerbrewing.com www.curraheebrew.com

VISIT LOCAL TRAIL BUSINESSES

Featured Local Hikes

Kimsey Creek Trail, Rufus Morgan Trail and Wayah Crest To Siler Bald

VIEW THE HIKE ITINERARY

Kimsey Creek Trail:

Overview: Beautiful and popular blue-blazed trail following the course of Kimsey Creek from Standing Indian Campground to Deep Gap on the Appalachian Trail. View the Hike Itinerary.

  • Hike Difficulty Rating: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Hike Length: 8.1 miles (including from parking to trailhead)
  • Elevation Change: 1,240 feet
  • Treadway: Terrain varies; lots of shallow water/rocks to navigate
  • Hike Start Location: Parking lot at Back Country Information Center on FS67 in Standing Indian area
  • Distance from Town Center: Approximately 14 miles
  • Dogs: Required to be on leash
  • Detailed Description: A good number of excellent hikes begin at the Back Country Information Center, many of which serve as connecting trails to the A.T. There is a sign at the Back Country Information Center listing the names and distances of the hikes, including the Kimsey Creek Trail. This is both where you park your car and where the hike begins. The trail is well-marked. Follow signs to the junction of the Kimsey Creek Trail and the Park Ridge/Park Creek Loop and turn left. In about 0.3 miles you will go up a relatively short, steep incline and hike above the campground, eventually ending up on an old Forest Service road. Follow the blue blazes and remain on this road for several miles. It will become quite wet with water crossings, springs, and feeder streams to Kimsey Creek. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if you’re on the trail or in the creek! However, the water is never very deep and there are lots of rocks to hop to and from. Of course, trekking poles can be quite useful! Eventually, there will be a bridge where the Forest Service road ends and a single trail path begins again. This is a drier section of the trail but there are abundant water sounds and small waterfalls. The trail then rises above the creek (another steep incline) and drops back down. Finally, the trail leaves the creek and travels up through an old picnic and camping area to Deep Gap. To get back to your car, simply reverse course. Or, if you want more hiking, Standing Indian Mountain can be reached from here by turning left on the A.T.

Rufus Morgan Trail

Overview: Beautiful, blue-blazed waterfall hike that can be enjoyed by inexperienced hikers, as well as experienced ones. The trail begins at the small parking lot and is well-marked and maintained. Follow the blue blazes. There is a beautiful waterfall and in the late spring and some of the summer the blooming rhododendrons, flame azaleas and mountain laurel are spectacular. View the Hike Itinerary.

  • Hike Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Route Type: Loop
  • Hike Length: 1.0 miles
  • Elevation Change: 288 feet
  • Treadway: Some rocks, roots and water but none are particularly problematic
  • Hike Start Location: After taking U.S. 64 west for 3 miles out of Franklin, turn right at Wayah Bald directional sign. Take first left onto Wayah Road (S.R. 1310) and go 6 miles. Then go left on F.S. 388. Trail is 2.2 miles on right.
  • Distance From Town Center: Approximately 11.2 miles
  • Dogs: Required to be on leash
  • Detailed Description: The trail begins at the small parking lot and is well-marked and maintained. Follow the blue blazes. There is a beautiful waterfall and in the late spring and some of the summer the blooming rhododendrons, flame azaleas and mountain laurel are spectacular.

Wayah Crest To Siler Bald

Overview: Very popular and beautiful hike on the Appalachian Trail and then up a hill .3 mile to an incredible 360’ view known as Siler Bald. View the Hike Itinerary.

  • Hike Difficulty Rating: Moderate
  • Route Type: Out and back
  • Hike Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,007 feet
  • Treadway: Well-used and maintained dirt trail
  • Hike Start Location: Wayah Crest which is off Wayah Road (SR 1310) on the other side of the street from gravel road (F.S. 69) which leads to Wayah Bald.
  • Distance from Town Center: Approximately 12 miles
  • Dogs: Required to be on leash
  • Detailed Description: There is no sign for Wayah Crest on Wayah Road. However, if you follow Wayah Road for nine miles from U.S. 64 there is a sign for Wayah Bald on the right. You should look to the left and turn off the road where you will find a parking lot for Wayah Crest. The Appalachian Trail is found just beyond a picnic area. Look for the white blazes. This hike has a steady incline, with enough breaks to catch your breath, and is forested much of the way. However, you will come to a large meadow and, depending on the time of year, the wildflowers can be outstanding. There is a steep trail to the right which you should follow for about a quarter mile to the top of Siler Bald.

 

Get Involved

NHCNantahala Hiking Club (NHC)

The Nantahala Hiking Club (NHC) is one of 31 volunteer Appalachian Trail (AT) maintaining clubs of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). The NHC maintains 58.6 miles of the AT from Bly Gap at the Georgia/North Carolina border to the Nantahala Outdoor Center on the Nantahala River at Wesser, NC. The club also maintains several trails that connect to the AT.

 

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

ATC Volunteer Program

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is always looking for dedicated volunteers to help maintain the A.T. and assist in our visitor center and headquarters. Opportunities range from greeting visitors and providing information about local hikes to joining a Trail crew for week-long maintenance trips, gaining first-hand experience in what it takes to keep the A.T. open and enjoyable for millions each year. Learn more at appalachiantrail.org/volunteer.

Upcoming Events

View a list of events at Franklin Community Events Calendar.