Just over an hour west of Asheville, NC and two hours north of Atlanta, GA the Franklin and Nantahala communities are tucked away amongst the peaks of the Blue Ridge, Southern Nantahala, and Great Smoky Mountains. Whether you’re a fan of the great outdoors or the peace and quiet of small-town life, you’ll find everything you need right here in Franklin and Nantahala, NC.
With the iconic Appalachian Trail and whitewater of the Nantahala River leading the way as outdoor destinations, only is it when you begin to look closer that you see there is so much more to see and experience.
For those looking for an overnight hiking adventure, Siler Bald offers spectacular 360-degree views and wide-open sky where you can pitch your tent or just lie out under the stars. For those seeking a more rugged challenge, the 25-mile Standing Indian Loop will challenge even the most seasoned hikers.
For those more inclined for a scenic drive without the hike, we have a lot of adventure for you as well. A drive from Franklin up Wayah Road, takes you to the most popular location in the Nantahala Mountains, Wayah Bald Tower. Drive up forest service road 69 and you’ll arrive at the nearly one-mile-high tower that is a short walk up a paved path. From there, 360-degree views await to take your breath away.
Insider’s Tip: Arrive well before sunrise with your camera and a comfy chair and watch from the east facing platform as the sun greets the new day. Take a warm coat, the temperatures can be 10-20 degrees cooler on the mountain.
If you’re looking to disconnect, refresh, and recharge, the Nantahala Community is ready to welcome you. Cherokee for “Land of the Noon Day Sun,” Nantahala is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Rent a pontoon boat, kayak, or other watercraft from Lake’s End Marina and head onto Nantahala Lake and enjoy the mostly undeveloped shoreline that is owned by the National Forest Service. You can rent a mountain top cabin from Cherokee Mountain Cabins and experience the magical sunrises that will leave you speechless. For the fly fishermen in the family, the Nantahala River offers world-class flyfishing with easy roadside access. Keep an eye out for whitewater kayakers, as the river is also a favorite of those seeking the thrill of the rapids.
Head back to Franklin and take a stroll down Main Street and browse locally owned shops and art galleries or visit one of three museums all within walking distance from town square. The Scottish Tartans Museum & Historical Center located on Main Street has been “educating the public about tartan and Highland Dress as well as, served as a general Scottish Heritage Center for the region” since 1994.
Ready for dinner or how about some world-class entertainment? Check out the line-up at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts to see what’s on the calendar or head to Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. or Currahee Brewing for locally crafted beer and some live music. Franklin is also home to the “classic French neighborhood café,” Caffé Rel, surprisingly located alongside the Hot Spot gas station.
If you’re into Mother Nature’s “rock music”, make sure you take the scenic drive along the Cullasaja River Gorge where you will find some of the most scenic waterfalls and even a local swimming hole called Bust Your Butt Falls. The star of the show is the 60’ waterfall, Dry Falls, where you can actually walk behind it and stay mostly dry. Capped off by Bridal Veil Falls which makes for a fantastic waterfall selfie, as it sits roadside just below Highlands, NC.
You can’t make a trip to Franklin & Nantahala without heading to any of our 9 active gem mines. A Visit to Cowee Gift Shop & Mason Mountain Mine might reward you with some precious minerals such as Ruby and Sapphire, Kyanite, Moonstone, Smokey Quartz, and even Garnet. Families have been “Rock Hounding” in these mountains for generations and is a fun activity for all ages!
Discover Nature’s Paradise at www.exploringwnc.com and Get to Know Your Mountain Side, in Franklin and Nantahala, North Carolina!
All photos courtesy of Franklin & Nantahala TDC