Get the scoop first with our official blog about Franklin, NC!
Now is the time to visit Franklin
Summers in Franklin are nothing short of extraordinary. From miles of winding hiking trails to conquer, to crisp, refreshing waterfalls to cool down in, the natural wonders of Macon County will never cease to amaze you.
August is a bustling time of year for Franklin, with outdoor adventure waiting to be vanquished and annual festivals full of mountain music and delicious treats just begging to be devoured. There are few things better in life than taking a break for the everyday under a shade tree along the Little Tennessee River. The second week in August is a special time in Franklin because its time for the annual Mountain High BBQ Festival filled with cooking competitions, car shows, and great southern tunes.
Let your senses come alive with a splash of traditional southern bbq specialties while you enjoy some good old fashion bluegrass. The Mountain High BBQ festival is just one of the unique treasures on the calendar for Franklin this summer, proving time and time again that this small western North Carolina town can pack a big punch of entertainment for people of all ages.
Before the bbq even has time to cool down, it will soon be time for the leaves perched atop the trees of Macon County to begin the ultimate color show for fall. Seemingly setting the mountains on fire with rich oranges and deep reds, as the leaves start to change colors in Franklin, you are able to experience the true beauty and unmatched dissipation of the change in seasons.
Whether you want to go off the grid along the Appalachian Trail, or go back to your childhood with some delectable southern cooking, right now is the time to drop what you are doing, and Discover Franklin.
The widely praised American naturalist William Bartram was awestruck when he laid eyes on the mountains of Western North Carolina for the first time in the mid-1770s. Bartram explored present-day Franklin and the Great Smoky Mountains in 1775, becoming one of the first Americans to seriously explore the largely unknown geography and wildlife of the Smokies.
Traveling from Charleston, SC, Bartram spent several weeks in the Southern Appalachians. In doing so, the Quaker from Pennsylvania developed a deep fondness for the region, particularly the Cherokee people. Bartram spent much of his time in Cowee, a large Cherokee village in modern day Macon County.
Moving westward with the hopes of exploring more of WNC that year, Bartram suddenly stopped near Andrews, turned around and went back to Cowee. If you have seen what Franklin and the surrounding area has to offer in terms of natural beauty, it’s not hard to understand Bartram’s reasoning for making the abrupt U-turn in the spring of ’75.
One thing he most definitely saw and longed for after leaving was panoramic, breath-taking views of mountain waterfalls. Fortunately for us, this is something we can still see and fully appreciate today. Below is a list of noted waterfalls in the Franklin area and the surrounding region. Gear up and take the family out for a memorable outdoor excursion. Whether you’re visiting or have lived here your entire life, the waterfalls below are sure to offer views pleasing to anyone’s sight, regardless of your age or background.
Please don’t forget to take a device to capture what you see. Be safe and enjoy your picturesque moment!
Glen Falls – Travel 3 miles south on NC 106 from Highlands. Turn left on U.S. Forest Service Rd. and look for the “Glen Falls” marker. It’s a one-mile trail to the falls, a rather steep and rough incline.
Rufus Morgan Falls – Take U.S. 64 for 3 miles before turning right upon seeing the Wayah Bald directional sign. Take first left onto Wayah Road and drive about 6.5 miles before turning left at F.S. Road 388. The falls is 2.2 miles on the right.
Big Laurel Falls – Travel west for 9 miles on U.S. 64 and turn left on Wallace Gap Road and drive about 1.5 miles. Turn right on F.S. Road 67 (toward Standing Indian Campground) and go 7 miles. The trail runs along an old railroad grade. Once you pass over the bridge, it splits; right ends at Big Laurel Falls.
Looking Glass Falls – Take 276 from Brevard. Falls is about 4 miles north of Ranger Station. Parking area is marked and it’s only a short walk to the falls.
Mooney Falls – See directions to Big Laurel Falls; continue for .7 mile past Big Laurel Falls trailhead. Take the short trail that descends to Mooney Falls.
Tom’s Branch Falls – See directions to Indian Creek Falls. It’s located about a quarter-mile from Deep Creek Campground.
Indian Creek Falls – From Bryson City, take “Deep Creek Rd.” north 3 miles until you get to Deep Creek Campground in the GSMNP. It’s a one-mile, easy hike to the falls.
Rainbow Falls – From Cashiers, take U.S. 64 to N.C. 281 South. The trail to the falls is 2 miles from the intersection.
Sliding Rock – Take 276 North from Brevard; the falls is 7 miles north of the Ranger Station.
Cullasaja Falls – Visible from U.S. 64, 11 miles east from Franklin and 9 miles west from Highlands. The trail to the falls is a half-mile trek through steep, rough terrain.
Bridal Veil Falls – Located 2.5 miles west of Highlands on U.S. 64.
Whitewater Falls – From Cashiers, take U.S. 64 east 10 miles to “Whitewater Road.” Falls are located 10 miles south on the road, near the NC-SC state line. The falls can also be reached from N.C. 107, south of Cashiers.
Courthouse Falls – Take U.S. 64 East to N.C. 215 North; travel 10 miles and take a right on Courthouse Creek Road. The trailhead is well marked.
Toxaway Falls – The falls can be viewed as you cross the Toxaway River on U.S. 64 East near Rosman.
Dry Falls – Located about 3.5 miles west of Highlands near U.S. 64.
Juneywhank Falls – See directions to Indian Creek Falls; Juneywhank is one-quarter mile downstream from Indian Creek.
The aforementioned waterfalls are by no means the only few in Franklin and the surrounding region to gaze upon. Notably, a nice little falls is located on Section 4 of the Bartram Trail, near the Wallace Branch Trailhead; a few miles west from downtown Franklin. It’s an excellent opportunity to hike and take in a great view, much like Bartram did a few centuries before.
For more information about the sites or other locations, please contact the Franklin Chamber of Commerce at 828-524-3161 or toll free at 1-866-372-5546.
Gem Mining in Franklin, North Carolina
Franklin, North Carolina is renowned as the “Gem Capital of the World” for good reason. Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Sota ventured through the area in the 16th century, searching for gold and other treasures. That exploration established a tradition in Franklin, which morphed into gem mining in the late 19th century. During that time several companies constructed mines to discover and capitalize on the source of Franklin’s ruby and sapphire explosion in the 1870s. Ever since, folks have traveled to Franklin in search of precious gems, and quite possibly, a chance at finding the next big one. That person could be you!
Franklin and the surrounding area have various gem mines for families and individuals to choose from. Although Mother Nature seems to have bypassed spring altogether this year, the weather of late is perfect for those looking to continue the gem mining tradition in a beautiful part of Southern Appalachia. Just don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Below is a list of mines in the Franklin area. Contact them for operating hours and rates. Good luck and enjoy!
Cherokee Ruby & Sapphire Mine
Located in the Cowee Valley at 41 Cherokee Mine Road off Ruby Mine Road
Rocky Face Mine
Located three miles North of Franklin at 268 Sanderstown Road
Rose Creek Mine
Located five miles North of Franklin on Highway 28 at 115 Terrace Ridge Drive
Gold City Gem Mine
Located about seven miles North of Franklin off Highway 441 at 9410 Sylva Road
Cowee Mountain Ruby Mine
Located about five miles from Franklin, at the foot of Cowee Mountain at 6771 Sylva Road
Jackson Hole Gem Mine
Located near Cullasaja Falls between Highlands and Franklin on Highway 28 and US 64
Located at 385 Sheffield Farms Road
Mason’s Ruby & Sapphire Mine
Located in Burningtown off Route 28 North
Old Cardinal Gem Mine
Located at 72 Rockhaven Drive
Mason Mountain Mine & Cowee Gift Shop
Located at 5313 Bryson City Road
Check out the Museums located in Franklin, North Carolina
Spring has officially arrived in Franklin, North Carolina. The grass is getting greener, daffodils are blooming and the weather is warmer. This is the time of year people start planning their vacations. If Franklin, North Carolina is your vacation destination this year you should consider checking out the numerous museums that Franklin, North Carolina has to offer. All museums listed below are within walking distance of each other.
The Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum– Located at 25 Phillips Street, Franklin, NC, 28734. This museum has eight rooms filled with gems and minerals that are found all over the world. The museum has many local gems and minerals on display as well. Be sure to check out the 2.25 pound Ruby that was found in Franklin, NC. The museum is located in the historic “Old Jail” on Phillips Street. Admission is free. Hours of operation are May 1st – October 31st Monday thru Saturday, 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. November 1st-April 30th open Saturday only from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For more information please call 828-369-7831 or visit www.fgmm.org.
Macon County Historical Museum– Located at 36 West Main Street, Franklin, NC, 28734. This museum is located in the J.R. Pendergrass building which is listed on the National Register of Historic places. This museum offers an in-depth view into Appalachian history. The museum is full of artifacts and photographs illustrating life in Franklin, North Carolina. Admission is free. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. For more information please call 828-524-9758 or visit www.maconnchistorical.org. Also be sure to ask about the “Haunted History Tour”.
Ruby City Gem Museum– Located at 130 East Main Street, Franklin, NC 28734. This museum has a vast collection of gems, minerals and pre-Columbian artifacts. Be sure to check out the world’s largest sapphire weighing at 385 pounds and one of the largest gem quality rubies ever found in Franklin, NC. The museum is also home to an authentic shrunken head. The black light room is a must see. Admission is free. Hours of operation are April 1st-December 31st Monday thru Friday 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Saturday hours are 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. For more information please call 828-524-3967 or visit www.rubycity.com.
Scottish Tartans Museum- Located at 86 East Main Street, Franklin, NC, 28734. This museum is the only one of its kind in the United States. This museum is a direct extension of the Scottish Tartans Society in Scotland. This museum focuses on the history of Scottish Highland clothing. The museum also offers an extensive look into Scottish culture, history and migration. Be sure to check out your family tartan. Admission is $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for children age 6 to 12 and free for children under 6. Hours of operation are Monday thru Saturday 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. For more information please call 828-524-7472 or visit www.scottishtartans.org.
Ah, winter in the mountains… it’s a quieter time, a calmer time. And with the trees bare of their leaves, at every turn you’ll find views that go on forever.
For those who enjoy the brisk mountain air, there are plenty of things to do in western North Carolina during the winter months. Here are three hiking options that are sure to please, whether you’re after family fun or an active weekend escape.
Rufus Morgan Trail
A short 12-mile drive from Franklin, NC, the Rufus Morgan trail is a great option for hikers of all ages and abilities. The easy one-mile loop is well-marked and well-maintained, meandering through a mature hardwood forest and crossing a babbling stream via foot bridge.
Waterfalls in western North Carolina are a popular attraction, and for good reason. This trail will lead you to a great example. About halfway through the hike, take the optional side trail to the base of a beautiful 60-foot waterfall.
But don’t worry about crowds here. If you want some time for peace and reflection, this is the hike for you. Especially during this time of year, you’re likely to have the Rufus Morgan Trail all to yourself.
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.15398, -83.5446
Directions from Franklin, NC: https://goo.gl/maps/vShvs
Siler Bald is one of the best kept secrets in the NC mountains, rewarding hikers with stunning 360-degree views. There are two trail options for reaching the Bald – one is 4 miles round-trip, the other is 8.4 miles. While both trails are family-friendly, take the shorter route if you have smaller children.
With an elevation of over 5,000 feet, if there’s any snow in the area, Siler Bald should have a good covering. If road conditions permit, do as the locals do and bring a sled or inner tube to enjoy the sloping terrain while you take in the breathtaking views.
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.12072,-83.547093
Directions from Franklin, NC: https://goo.gl/maps/YBjON
Being in Franklin, NC is a great opportunity to hop onto a section of the gorgeous 100-mile Bartram Trail, one of western North Carolina’s best hiking trails.
A 10-minute drive from Franklin delivers you to a small parking area where you can begin the 4-mile out-and-back hike. This section of the Bartram Trail is appropriate for the whole family but is rated “moderate” difficulty due to the uphill journey through the wooded wilderness.
After only a few minutes, you’ll come upon a small, charming waterfall. At the end of the two-mile climb, you’ll find your destination: William’s Pulpit, a rock ledge that presents stunning views of the Nantahala Mountains. Enjoy the vista knowing that the return trip is all downhill!
Trailhead Coordinates: 35.18013, -83.43311
Directions from Franklin, NC: https://goo.gl/maps/owmCq