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!
The Dogwoods are pristine, the tulips are exploding with color and the mountains of Western North Carolina are calling. Spring in Franklin is unlike anytime of year. Everything is new and fresh and the air is a little crisper than normal. If you are thinking of a weekend getaway, look no further, Franklin is where you need to be.
May is a fantastic month to plan a trip to Franklin, North Carolina, with unique experience planned each feel. From an introduction to puppetry class at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts on May 2 to the Echo Valley Gem and Mineral Show May 4-8, there is something for everyone.
Mother’s Day weekend is a treat in Macon County, with gem shows like you have never seen, a plant sale along main street and the famous annual “Airing of the Quilts” festival. Come see homemade, one of kind masterpieces as they are hung up and down Franklin’s quaint main street and stop in to say hello to the shop owners displaying these works of art.
The Little Tennessee Greenway is perfect in the Spring, with the cool breeze of the Little Tennessee River pairing well with the sweet smells of native flowers blossoming along the walk.
The Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail are bustling with hikers and with various trail heads and access points to both, a great day hike or even a section hike is the ideal way to spend time in Macon County.
Spring is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts and what better way to recharge and refresh than Discovering Us, here in Franklin, North Carolina.
Top Outdoor Town – Check out Franklin, NC
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home.” –John Muir
With mountain ridges as far as the eye can see and fresh water streams that meander through the hills, Macon County is home to nearly 250 square miles of United States Forest land, making it the perfect outdoor adventure mecca.
From unmarred national forests to pristine mountain waters, and its location as a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, Franklin, North Carolina is the ideal outdoor destination. With Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine’s recent designation as a 2015 Top Outdoor Town, visitors from all over will soon find out exactly what makes Franklin the perfect place to get lost outside.
- Home to Nantahala National Forest
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” -John Muir
With terrain reaching 5,580 in elevation, the Nantahala National Forest spans 531,270 acres over six counties, with the majority being located in Macon County. As the largest national forest in North Carolina, the Nantahala National Forest houses three wilderness areas, including Ellicott Rock near Highlands. These unharmed wilderness destinations preserve the forests as close to their original state as possible, making for the perfect outdoor experience. These wilderness areas create the perfect opportunity for solitude in a rugged, natural setting.
- A day’s drive from three major metropolitan areas
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir
Not everyone wants to get lost for long and by being located two to two and half hours away from Atlanta, Charlotte, and Greenville, Franklin makes for the ultimate day adventure. Franklin sits 130 miles north of Atlanta, 180 miles west of Charlotte, and 110 miles northwest of Greenville. After a couple of hours in the car, anyone can leave the hustle and bustle of the city and become consumed with crisp mountain air and pristine relaxation.
- Businesses and a community centered around outdoor recreation
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir
From the Nantahala Hiking Club providing insider information about the best spots to put some miles on your hiking boots to businesses built on serving the outdoor enthusiast, Franklin is an entire community dedicated to the outdoor industry. From custom shoe fittings at Outdoor 76 or resupplying before heading back into the woods at Three Eagle Outfitters, to grabbing a beer at the Lazy Hiker Brewery, Franklin has grown into a one stop shop, all of which are locally owned and operated for premiere customer service, for the outdoorsman.
- Franklin was designated as the very first official Appalachian Trail Community
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
All 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail stretches through 14 states and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has designated 36 towns from Georgia to Maine as certified Appalachian Trail Communities. Franklin, being recognized as a leader in community involvement to promote and protect the trail, was designated as the very first Appalachian Trail Community.
Macon County is home to 47 miles of the Appalachian Trail, with Franklin being just 11 miles off the trail. The Macon County Transit also provide a shuttle service to hikers during peak season. As a leader in the trail communities, Franklin has even worked to develop an annual month long celebration of the trail, April Trail Days, spanning from the first day of Spring until Earth Day. With events and celebrations hosted by various businesses and clubs in the community to promote the trail and welcome hikers to Franklin.
- Hiking, biking, climbing, paddling, and every other outdoor recreation opportunity you can possibly fathom.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir
The possibilities are endless. From hiking perfection like the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail, to rock climbing at Pickens Nose, to paddling down the Little Tennessee, the miles and miles of forests and rivers encompassing Franklin lends itself beautifully to satisfy your wanderlust. Whether you want to throw on a pack and go off the grid in the Nantahala National Forest or if you was to suit up to test out your rod in a fresh mountain stream, there is no shortage of opportunity in Franklin.
Our fantastic town was named the 2015 Top Small Town by the readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors.
Check out the full story HERE.
Or watch this quick video:
The world famous pumpkin role, a Halloween parade down main street and a nine foot tall dragon are just a few of the things coming to Franklin for the 19th annual PumpkinFest. Right when the leaves are at their peak and the mountains of western North Carolina are set on fire with rich reds, golden yellows, and lushes oranges, the town of Franklin hosts the biggest annual fall festival in the south!
19 years ago the leaders of Franklin set out to host a family-friendly celebration of the Autumn season along a bustling main street, and nearly two decades later PumpkinFest continues to grow with this year’s event planning to be bigger than ever!
“We have expanded the Pumpkin Roll this year so more pumpkins will be able to roll at a time,” said Franklin Town Manager Summer Woodard. “This will allow more “rollers” to participate and cut down on wait times. One of the best balloon artist’s in the southeast will be thrilling the kids as well as street performers including a roving magician. The magician will also perform a stage show. Be on the lookout too for a knight riding a dragon. There will also be live music from guitarist Ronnie Evans and the classic rock of Tea 4 Three plus a record 90 vendors in attendance featuring everything from arts & crafts to great food.”
For the first time in the festival’s history, there is a waiting list of vendors to set up at PumpkinFest, promising that those in attendance have the best arts, crafts, and fall specials available. From kid friendly games and hand carved wooden toys to locally crafted pottery and deliciously served up food, vendors play a huge part in ensuring PumpkinFest is the perfect kick off to the holiday season.
PumpkinFest is Franklin’s biggest festival and the world famous pumpkin roll down Frogtown, paired with the always entertaining pumpkin pie eating contest on the square, the festival has a little something for everyone. The festival keeps growing each year and to help with some of those growth pains, the town of Franklin is bringing a shuttle option to the table that will expand parking. Macon County Transit will be shuttling people to and from PumpkinFest free of charge this year from Franklin High School.
“We work hard each year to keep the festival fresh,” said Woodard. “Yes we have standard events, but we bring new elements to the festival each year. It also goes back to family. There are activities for all age groups to enjoy in a family-friendly atmosphere.”
Grab your family or grab a friend, throw on your best costume and join Franklin in welcoming Fall as you march down main street in your Halloween best for the 19th annual PumpkinFest. PumpkinFest kicks off downtown Franklin at 9 a.m. and the fun doesn’t stop until 4 p.m.