Get the scoop first with our official blog about Franklin, NC!
Heading to the mountains during summer means it’s time for trails galore, and Franklin delivers! Whether you’re looking for a fun family outing that’s easy on the kids or a truly challenging trek with backpacks and tents, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for around these parts.
Here are 9 trails in a 45-minute drive or less from downtown Franklin! Difficulty level is ranked by AllTrails.com, and all distance measurements are round-trip.
Little Tennessee Greenway
Easy | 6.4 miles | 4 min drive
If you’re looking for the absolute best place to take the kids, check out the Little Tennessee Greenway. There are several entry points scattered throughout town, so if the six-and-a-half miles are too much, you can always pick a spot and walk as far as you like. Bring the bikes, the pets (on leashes), or a picnic—and be sure to check out the Wesley Park playground!
Easy | 1.4 miles | 44 min drive
Pickens nose is well worth the extra drive time, and not just because of the silly name that will keep your kids giggling for the whole trip. The view is absolutely stunning after a half-mile hike uphill, which is just enough to make you feel like a mountain explorer without having to break out the boots.
Wayah Bald Tower
Easy | 4 miles | 46 min drive
The kids are going to love this one; the Wayah Bald Tower is an old stone fire tower perched at 5,342 feet elevation with a massive 180-degree overlook. You can see as far as the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee all the way to the foothills in Georgia!
Rufus Morgan Trail
Medium | 1 mile | 28 min drive
The terrain is a bit more challenging, but for explorers who love chasing waterfalls, this trail is for you! The Rufus Morgan trail is also prime bird-watching territory, so be sure to grab a camera and a sketchbook. Leashed dogs are also welcome!
Medium | 4.1 miles | 9 min drive
Trail runners, get excited! The Bartram trail is a gorgeous rising-and-falling trail dotted with waterfalls that runners seek out. Climb all the way to the summit for a glorious view at William’s Pulpit. It’s also great for more adventurous kids and leashed pups, too!
Medium | 10.1 miles | 23 min drive
Get ready to feel delightfully lost in a forest wonderland. The trek is a bit longer than most we’ve covered so far, but you’ll truly feel like you’ve wandered into a fairy realm. Ready your backpack and your camera—and maybe even some camping gear—for a truly nature-rooted experience.
Expert | 4.9 miles | 42 min drive
Deep Gap is a great catch-all trail. Whether you want to spot wildlife, set up camp, or get some trail running in with your dog, the 5-mile round trip is a great balance between being challenging and also accessible for different goals.
Winding Stair Gap
Expert | 9.4 miles | 15 min drive
Want to conquer a section of the Appalachian Trail without getting whisked away to Maine? Winding Stair Gap is just the thing. The entry point is right on US 64 with convenient parking at the base. Take your pups on a leash and get ready to take plenty of floral photos!
Wayah Bald to Tellico Gap
Expert | 13.8 round trip | 42 min drive
Start at Wayah Bald Tower and prepare for an expedition! Hikers who want to backpack and camp along the trail are in for a treat between Wayay Bald and Tellico Gap. You can even bring Fido on your journey! For adventurers who want to undertake the almost-14-mile round trip in one go, we salute you—that’s an undertaking!
Vacation planning can get tricky if you’re laying out the trip months in advance.
Perhaps you heard of an awesome indoor attraction, but the lady at the hotel really sells you on enjoying the sunshine on a hiking trail—and what do you do when your excursion gets flipped because it’s not so nice outside? Maybe you realize upon arrival that you’d really rather stay in with a sprawling view of the mountains to keep you company.
Lucky for our tourists, Franklin is a great destination for vacations of all sorts. Whether you want to revel in the outdoors, explore the indoor attractions, or kick back at a lodge for a lazy day in the clouds.
Franklin is the hub of outdoor adventures galore! When the weather’s nice, time’s your only limit for the things you can do in a day.
Want to cannonball into your vacation? Check out the swimming hole at Bust-Your-Butt Falls, just an hour’s drive from Franklin on roads with spectacular mountain views. Fishers also have a dream come true, with multiple spots for fly fishing in the cool rivers, but if adrenaline’s more your speed, white water rafting is the way to go!
For you adventurers who’d rather not get wet, we’ve got hikes and bike trails from the easy-going, paved Little Tennessee River Greenway to more ambitious mountain trails and waterfalls.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a complete trip to Franklin without gem mining! We’re the ruby capital of the world, so make sure to set aside some time to get muddy and dig for treasure in the mountains!
Don’t let rainy days get you down! There’s plenty to see and do indoors while you listen to the rain pattering the roof outside.
For instance, you can kick it back in one of our local breweries or taprooms for dark beers and friendly conversations. Downtown, you can pop in and out of our Main Street shops without getting drenched and bring home snazzy new outfits and mountain-made souvenirs.
Want to delve into Franklins wild and peculiar history? Check out our museums and drop into any number of antique stores for a taste of our past. You’ll be surprised at what you find in our quiet little town!
Now, the kids are in for a real treat if you visit the Factory! Our massive arcade is outfitted with everything from ticket games to laser tag and bumper cars—and all indoors. Time to get rid of some rainy-day energy!
While venturing out is exciting, sometimes you just need a day to relax and recover from the craziness of everyday life. What’s the point of vacation if you just end up being stressed as you try to cram everything into a few days?
Whether you want the space and privacy of a personal balcony at Cat Creek Lodge, the old-fashioned hominess of Oak Hill Country Inn, or the mid-town location of Franklin Terrace, a lodge or bed and breakfast is absolutely the way to go.
For some, bed and breakfasts just isn’t the right speed—and that’s okay! We have hotels, motels, and AirBnB rentals galore for anyone hunting a great place to stay.
Whatever day it is, have a great one!
Franklin is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to breath that mountain air, enjoy the view from the porch, and explore what Western North Carolina has to offer. We can’t wait to have you, rain or shine!
The mountains are a dream in the summertime—waterfalls, hikes, spectacular views, and those high-elevation breezes are can’t-miss staples of a Franklin getaway.
There’s so much more in store for your summer weekends here, too! Take a break from outdoor adventuring and head around town for some funnel cakes, broadswords, kilts, quilts, blooming onions, and bicycle stunt shows!
The Airing of the Quilts – May 11
Around here, we’re known for our beautiful handmade items that call back to Appalachian family heirlooms—and the Airing of the Quilts stands out in a vibrant display of craftmanship from the past and the present.
More than 30 of our Main Street merchants sponsor the festival where businesses and homeowners alike gather to drape quilts from store fronts, railings, and porches for a springtime burst of color throughout the Town of Franklin, NC.
As you browse the quilts, you can also dip in to see the vendors lining the street to sell quilting materials, arts & crafts, food, and more! Quilting demonstrations and giveaways run for the duration of the festivals, too, so you can learn and possibly win big just by showing up.
A Taste of Scotland Festival – June 13 – 16
Speaking of our heritage, there’s no better way to officially ring in the summer months than our Taste of Scotland festival! Whether you come to peruse the broadswords, kilts, or jewelry, visitors from all over will have plenty to explore and learn about the Scots who settled here so many years ago.
Come enjoy a day of Scottish fun, food, fashion, music, highland games, clans, border collie demonstrations, crafters, Cherokee and re-enactor demonstrations, seminars, and culture for the whole family!
The 4th of July
Okay America—it’s your birthday, and Franklin knows how to celebrate like you wouldn’t believe! From Main Street to the Macon County Veteran’s Park, the party stretches all over the town and all through the day.
Catch a wave of patriotic fun on Main Street from 10:00am to noon with our 4th of July Parade, and even join the march decked out in your own red, white, and blue party clothes! No registration is required for the parade; just join us at the lower level of Franklin Town Hall to line up between 9:30 and 10:00.
After the parade, the celebration is in full swing with free watermelon and popcorn, an inflatable Kid’s Zone, a Little Miss and Mr. Firecracker costume contest, a patriotic pet contest, and the one and only Dialed Action Bicycle Stunt show! Everything takes place between 10:00 and 12:00pm.
Once that wraps up at 12:00pm, head over to the Macon County Veteran’s Park (south of Franklin on U.S. 441) and join the cornhole championships, vendors, and outdoor fun as we count down to dark and start the fireworks show!
Appalachian Heritage Festival – July 20
Late July is the height of summer, and what better time to celebrate all things mountaineer than at the Appalachian Heritage Festival? brings a day of free fun for all ages on Saturday, July 20, 2019 from 9:00am to 4:00pm!
Between 9:00am and 4:00pm, you’ll get the full life-in-Appalachia experience as nearly 50 live demonstrations showcase the best our mountain life and history have to offer. Quilters, wood carvers, and canoe builders weave their magic on display, and you can even try your hand at finding buried treasure at a live, working gem mining flume.
No Appalachian festival would be complete without music, though, and the sweet sounds of guitar, dulcimer, banjo, flute, and piano float down Main Street as you explore vendors and local flair including a firetruck display and face painting for the kids.
Think you could give us a run for our homestyle money? Try your hand at our checker tournament at the Macon County Historical Museum for a blast from the past!
Franklin Folk Festival – August 17
When the first notes of cool weather start breezing through Franklin, we welcome travelers and locals alike to celebrate all things Western North Carolina at the Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center’s Franklin Area Folk Festival!
Immerse yourself with live music that’s open for anyone to join at the SEBA (SouthEast Bluegrass Association) Jammin’ Tent or the Old-time music group jam. Jammin’ will occur throughout the day and for the novice picker, a special beginners slow jam session will be held at 3:15 on the Outdoor Stage.
Want to travel back in time to the golden age of automobiles? Don’t miss the antique car display from 10 am – 2 pm at the lower level parking lot of Town Hall. Contact John Waldroop (828) 342-2506 for more details about the show.
Once you arrive at Cowee School, be sure to jump into the awesome activities lined up! You’ll be sure to find fun as you visit Grandpa’s Woodshop, scour the area in a Scavenger Hunt with the Blacksmith, and create take-home memories with a Smoky Mtn. Quilters Guild Make It/Take It project or clay (pottery/raku).
Be sure to also check out the FFA “Mock Wooden Cow,” library activities, old fashioned games, Toy Museum, dulcimer lessons on the Back Porch, and loom for kids to try their hand at weaving!
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a festival without food! The cafeteria and grounds vendors will offer BBQ, hamburgers, hotdogs, tomato biscuits, roasted corn, ice cream, milk shakes, floats, snow cones, cobbler, baked goods, lemonade, and more!
Don’t miss out this summer!
Franklin loves a celebration, especially in the great outdoors—and where better place to soak up the sun than in the gorgeous Western North Carolina mountains? Whether you come for our hands-on history, lip-smacking good food, or rich historical roots, you’re sure to find a vacation destination as unforgettable as it is fun!
The charm of corner antique stores is one of Franklin’s biggest draws to tourists and locals alike, but what really makes open rooms full of old furniture and knick-knacks such a staple here?
Whether antiquing was a chore you endured for your treasure-seeking grandparents or one of your lifelong hobbies, it’s always good to get back to the roots of why we love wandering into stores with hand-painted signs and rich, earthy smells.
Lasting the test of time
Sure, there may be a little fade in the colors and a bit of cloud in the glass, but colors fade in sunshine and sea glass holds its own sort of magic. The truth is that antiques have usually been well cared for and lovingly built—and that quality shows in how long they last.
Whether you’re looking for a new bedframe or some old-fashioned embroidery to mix up your wall art, antiques can deliver on the longevity.
While shopping for new furniture, why not purchase items that are environmentally friendly? Antique pieces are sustainable because of the years and years of use that don’t require new, fast replacements. Being good stewards of what’s already been manufactured slows the demand for quick fixes that won’t last as long.
Now, you may not want to decorate your first home with doilies and butterfly lampshades, but there are some great finds that have timeless designs. Trends come in cycles, too—so maybe you just might rethink those doilies in another few years!
Even if you have a very modern home, variety is the spice of life; an accent coffee table of rich, rugged oak in a white living room can be striking to say the least.
Traveling? Antique shops are a great place to explore the flavor of the town’s history. Items may not all be locally sourced, but you will be able to get a glimpse into the past through the eyes of business owners from the area.
Browsing antiques is like visiting a museum where you can actually touch the exhibit pieces—and maybe even bring one home!
Full of stories
If you’re the sentimental type, antique shops also hold a sort of reverent sweetness. Walking into a store is like opening a time capsule and enjoying the opportunity to soak up nostalgia for people, places, and things you may never have even known.
Shop owners are also a resource of deep knowledge and historical appreciation who can share stories, chat about items, and explain the odds and ends you might not recognize.
Come shop for antiques in Franklin!
Every antique shop has its own personality, and we love that about our stores! If you’re ever in town, make sure to drop in; we have several spots that have become staples for antiquing enthusiasts of all ages who want to soak up the history, invest in some quality pieces, and get a taste for Franklin’s homemade, old-fashioned style.
In a small town hidden away between mountains, stories flow as quick as the Little Tennessee river.
Let’s explore some of those stories, and who knows—you may experience them yourself the next time you drift into town!
Cherokee Spirit Warriors
Long before European settlers and Spanish explorers roamed the land, Cherokee Indians lived in the valley with a central mound at its heart. They called the town Nikwasi, and legend says that Cherokee warriors would pour out of the mound to help defend the land. It’s even said that those very warriors saved the town of Franklin during the Civil War, thousands of years later.
You can still see the Nikwasi Mound near Main Street in Franklin to this day and read its markers here.
But what about those settlers and explorers? Scotsmen with hearts homesick for their craggy mountains and wild hills planted their homesteads here, and the town of Franklin was officially organized in 1820.
Our rich Scottish history runs in our blood, but you can also find it tucked away in our Scottish Tartans Museum. The only one of its kind in the United States, the museum is a direct extension of the Scottish Tartans Society in Keith, Scotland.
Ambush in the Valley
Long before Main Street in Franklin was a twinkle in the town’s eye, the French and Indian War raged in the East. In their efforts to stir up bad blood between the Cherokee and the British, the French incited a four-year war between South Carolina and the Native Americans in the mountains.
The two armies clashed right in the middle of Franklin. The South Carolina military was headed for Echoe, lowest of the Cherokee’s Middle Towns, to destroy it and force a surrender—but the Cherokee ambushed South Carolina forces on either side, and Colonel Archibald Montgomery lost almost 100 men before retreating from Echoe.
Now, a brick and iron marker stands on Main Street in Franklin to remember the battle where so many were slain. You can read the inscription online here.
Corundum Mining Unearths Rubies and Sapphires
Franklin’s history goes deeper, too. Below the surface of the green mountains lies stores of a crystalline mineral called corundum, which is second only to diamonds in hardness. As companies began mining the crystals in 1870, more than corundum rolled out of the cool dirt—rubies and sapphires caught the sunlight, and gem miners have been traveling to Franklin ever since.
Now, families and gem enthusiasts of all ages can grab a pail and sift through the earth to see what precious stones tumble out. You can learn more about gem mining and its history on our website here.
A Peaceful Family Retreat with a Wild History
Whatever brings you to Franklin—whether it’s the nearness to hiking trails and outdoor adventure or the cozy remoteness from modern life—there’s so much to discover about our history. Come visit and soak up the stories in Franklin with us; you won’t be quick to forget it!