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Map of the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine (please see photos below). It is approximately 2,184 miles (3,515 km) long.

Beginning of the AT - 8.5 Miles from Springer Mountain, GA

End of the AT - Mount Katadin, Maine

Along the way, the trail passes through 47 miles of Macon County and the following states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Franklin, NC is only about 111 miles from the beginning of the trail or Springer Mountain, GA. Hence, making Franklin a wonderful place for hikers to hitch a ride off the trail down Hwy 64 into town for supplies or for a few nights off the trail.  

The trail is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers.

The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Many books, memoirs, web sites and fan organizations are dedicated to this pursuit.An unofficial extension known as the International Appalachian Trail, continues north into Canada and to the end of the range, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean.

The Little Tennessee River Greenway

Map of the Little Tennessee River Greenway

Located in Franklin, NC the Little Tennessee River Greenway cuts through meandering path of nearly five miles through Franklin providing hikers, walkers and runners an array of nature and fresh outdoor air. Reflecting the extraordinarily rich diversity of the Macon County landscape, visitors can experience wetlands, stroll through two railroad cuts left behind by the Tallulah Falls Railroad, wander alongside an old pasture, catch sight of the desert agave, and experience the upland woods (please see photo below).

"Nonah Brige along the Greenway"

The Greenway represents a voluntary local strategy to preserve scenic, natural, historic, cultural and recreational resources and promotes increased public access to the Little Tennessee River through the creation of riverside parks and trails.

At the head of the Little Tennessee River Greenway is Big Bear Park, which is easily accessed via a large parking lot just to the right of McDonalds in Downtown Franklin off of Main Street right before you get downtown. There is a full picnic and play area for adults and children of all ages to enjoy here. In addition, there is a sheltered area which may accomodate large groups wanting to have a cookout or birthday party, please call the contact information provided below for reservations.

Contact Information:

Friends of the Greenway
357 E. Main Street
Franklin, NC 28734

Macon County public schools do not need to pay any fee, but reservations are necessary. All other schools, local and out of county are expected to comply with the new fee schedule

Bartam Trail

Map of Bartam Trail

Bartram Trail is multi-state National Recreation Trail in WNC and GA. The trail stretches from the North Carolina-Georgia border southwest over the summit of Rabun Bald (Georgia's second highest peak), turns south-southeast to the Chattooga River and then heads northeast paralleling the river to the GA 28 bridge.

In North Georgia, the portion of the trail that winds through the Tallulah Ranger District is well maintained. About 37 miles long, this trail retraces a portion of the naturalist's path. Bartram actually traversed a significant portion of North Georgia from Savannah to Ellicott Rock. The trail begins at the North Carolina-Georgia border and passes over Rabun Bald, the second tallest peak in Georgia.

Just south of the North Carolina border the Bartram Trail crosses Hale Ridge Road, running southwest. It continues generally southwest to just past Raven Knob, where it turns almost due south. The route rises and falls until the base of Rabun Bald. Here, about 3 miles into the trail, the path begins to rise to the bald. This forest has been repeatedly harvested, so it does not look as Bartram describes it. A lookout tower at the top provides a great 360 degree view for hikers to enjoy (please see photo below), experienced hikers can go to Rabun Bald and return in a day.

                                                     View from Bartam Trail lookout tower

The trail approximates the route of 18th century naturalist and explorer William Bartram through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. In many places the Bartram Trail is unmarked and poorly maintained or completely obliterated by modern construction.

John Bartram visited the Southeast in 1765 and 1766 in his role as Botanist Royal in America. Appointed by King George III, the elder Bartram took his son William Bartram on these trips. So enamored was William of the life his father led that he left his Quaker roots in Philadelphia to explore the Southeast when he was offered financial support from a friend in England.

William Bartam began his journey in March of 1773 at the age of 35. He followed what is now called the Bartram Trail. This trail, which runs from the northeast corner of Georgia to Augusta and the Savannah River, is only partially maintained by local communities along the way.

Directions from Franklin, NC:

View From HWY 106 between Highlands, NC and 106 to GA

You can drive to Bartam Trail by taking Hwy 106 west for 7.3 miles from Highlands or head down 441S in Franklin to Georgia and take 106 off of 441 and head up Scaly Mtn, N.C until you come to the village of Scaly Mtn, NC. Then take a left onto Hale Ridge Rd for 2 miles until it bears left, while Bald Mtn Rd curves right. Continue on Hale Ridge Road until the road becomes gravel and in less than a half a mile you will see the Bartram Trail sign on the right.

Joyce Kilmer

Joyce Kilmer - Area Map

Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness was created in 1975 and covers 17,394 acres (70 km2) in the Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina and the Cherokee National Forest in eastern Tennessee, in the watersheds of the Slickrock and Little Santeetlah Creeks. It is named after Joyce Kilmer, author of "Trees." The Little Santeetlah and Slickrock watersheds contain 5,926 acres (23.98 km2) of old growth forest, one of the largest tracts in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

A little girl hugging one of the huge trees at Joyce Kilmer

The Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest along Little Santeetlah Creek is a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, an extremely diverse forest type unique to the Appalachian Mountains. Although there are many types of trees in Joyce Kilmer, dominant species include poplar, hemlock, red and white oak, basswood, beech, and sycamore. Many of the trees in Joyce Kilmer are over 400 years old. The largest rise to heights of over 100 feet (30 m) and have circumferences of up to 20 feet (please see photo above). The Slickrock Creek basin is coated primarily by a mature second-growth cove hardwood forest, although a substantial old growth stand still exists in its upper watershed.

Joyce Kilmer is a nature trail and is highly recommended for novices or families with small children. The 2 mile figure 8 trail allows enough time if you intend to hike the combined loop trail. Remember to bring water and protective clothing if your trip is going to be more than a few hours.The trailhead parking area has restrooms and picnic tables. No camping or overnight parking is allowed.

Directions from Franklin, NC:

From Franklin take 28 North to Sweetwater Road, which is about 15 miles on the left. Take Sweetwater Road for about 8 miles and then turn right onto Rodney Orr or which will bypass US 129/NC 123 to Robbinsville, NC. From Robbinsville take US 129 North for 1½ miles to the junction with Highway 143 West (Massey Branch Road). Turn left and proceed West on Highway 143 for approximately 5.0 miles to a stop sign. Turn right onto Kilmer Road. You will drive for about 7.3 miles and arrive at the top of Santeetlah Gap and the junction with the Cherohala Skyway. Bear to your right and continue on for another 2½ miles to the entrance of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Turn left into the entrance and it is about ½ mile to the parking area. There are picnic tables, grills, and restrooms available.

Yellow Mountain Trail

The Yellow Mountain Trail is located near Franklin, NC. From Franklin take the Highlands Road towards Highlands for about 15 miles and then turn right onto Buck Creek Road. Continue 2.3 miles up to Cole Gap. There is a sign and steps at the trailhead on the right side of Buck Creek Road.

Where Yellow Mountain Trail Ends - "The Old Yellow Mountain Fire Tower"

The trail ends at the old Yellow Mountain Fire Tower (please see photo above) which gives the hiker an opportunity to view a magnificent 360 degree view of the NC mountains. This is a 10 mile strenuous out-and-back hike which proceeds over Cole Mountain, Shortoff Mountain and Goat Knob before the final climb to the top of Yellow Mountain. It is very much worth the trip but it is not for beginners and remember to bring water, food and some extra clothing.

Rufus Morgan Trail

Rufus Morgan Area Trail Map

The Rufus Morgan Trail is recommended to the entire family, and the dog just bring a leash. It is suggest that you come in mid to late April through early May for the best chance to see the floor of the forest covered with wildflowers. Or if you visit the trail in late May thru July, you are going to enjoy the multitude of blooming Rhododendrons, Flame Azeleas and Mountain Laruel. The entire right hand side of the falls are lined with Rhododendron. Because the trail is so well maintained, it is recommend as a great activity for the entire family and senior citizens.

Picture Taken by Rufus Morgan

The falls are beautiful and the sounds of cascading water by the creek are extremely soothing (please see photo above). This is a loop trail but you can hike to the falls and return the same way you came if you like. Either way leads back to the small parking area where you started. Remember, it can get a little chilly in the higher elevations so make sure you brink a light jacket, water and some snacks.

Directions from Franklin, NC:

From Franklin take Hwy-64 W towards Murphy, NC for 3.8 miles to "Old Murphy Rd.(SR 1448) on your Right (Wayah Bald Sign). After you take the exit, continue down the hill for just under 0.2 miles to Wayah Road (SR 1310) on your Left ("Loafers Glory" gas station will be at the intersection of Old Murphy Rd. and Wayah Rd, so you'll know where to turn). Continue on Wayah Rd. for another 6.4 miles until you come to FR (forest road) #388 on your Left (you'll need to pay attention to your odometer because there are no signage for Rufus Morgan Falls or Trail, just a small brown sign with the numbers "388" on it). Continue on FR #388 for 2 miles to the parking area for "Rufus Morgan Trailhead". The road is gravel, but well maintained.

Shot Pouch Trail

Shot Pouch Trail - Franklin, North Carolina  

Located within Nantahala National Forest, the 1.5 mile Shot Pouch Trail crosses the Appalachian Trail. Traveling across a grassed wildlife clearing, Shot Pouch Trail continues along an old logging road, past a small waterfall. Offering views of Franklin Valley, and the Cowee & Fishhawk mountains, Shot Pouch Trail is an in and back trail.

Directions From Franklin, NC:

To reach Shot Pouch Trail from Franklin North Carolina, travel west along US 64 for 4 miles and turn right at the sign for Wayah Bald directional sign. Take the first left onto Wayah Road (NC 1310) and continue to the right turn onto Forest Service Road 69 at the Wayah Bald sign. Continue along FR 69 for 0.9 miles to the parking area for Shot Pouch Trail.

Wasilik Poplar Trail

Wasilik Poplar Trail is a family friendly, senior friendly, dogs on leash friendly with a well worn path. However, watch for exposed roots because they can be dangerous if your not paying attention to wear your walking. The trail is a short modest hike, only about 1.4 miles.

Wasilik Poplar Trail - Franklin, North Carolina

The trail has the 2nd Largest Yellow Poplar in the U.S. But the tree was topped by Hurricane Opal in 1998 (please see photo above). In 1986, the tree had a 8.4 feet diameter and was 135 ft. tall. In the summertime, the beautiful canopy of Tulip Poplars cover the trail illuminating the entire forest. This is recommended hike while staying in Franklin, NC because it is suitable for all ages (with exception to toddlers). Remember, it can get cold in the higher elevations so bring some extra cloths, water and food when you go into the woods.

Directions From Franklin, NC:

From Franklin take Hwy-64 W towards Murphy, NC for 12 miles. At just before the 12th mile you should see a Brown sign for "Wallace Gap", "Appalachian Trail" & "Standing Indian Campground" with arrows pointing you towards West Old Murphy Road on your left. Stay on W.Old Murphy Rd.(SR 1448) for 2 miles. You'll pass a Nantahala National Forest Sign for the campground saying "500 Ft Ahead", and at 2 miles you'll be at FR (Forest Road) #67 to your Right (indicated by a small, skinny Brown sign at the beginning of the road). Continue on FR 67 for 0.5 miles to parking area on the left. You're at "Rock Gap" and "AT" access. Pick up the John Wasilik Poplar Trail straight ahead (weathered brown sign saying "Wasilik Poplar" is staked at trailhead). You'll see a more prominant "AT" sign at the area, but it says nothing about the Wasilik Poplar Trail.