Hiking

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

This area is rich in a variety of hiking trails. The Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine) passes just a few miles West of Franklin, and can be accessed at many places throughout Western North Carolina. The AT stretches through Swain County from south of the Nantahala Gorge; across Fontana Dam and then follows the highest ridges of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park past Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap on its way to Maine. You can access the trail at Wesser in the Nantahala Gorge, Fontana Dam, Newfound Gap, and at Clingmans Dome. A popular section of the trail is from Newfound Gap to Charlie’s Bunion, which passes through a spruce and fir forest with spectacular vistas. The 8-mile-round-trip walk has an elevation gain of 980 feet. Visit the AT website for more information about hikes and access points. www.appalachiantrail.org

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Click here to view the National Park Trail Map

Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains during all months of the year with every season offering is own special rewards. During winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas along trails and reveals stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents. Spring provides a weekly parade of wildflowers and flowering trees. In summer, walkers can seek out cool retreats among the spruce-fir forests and balds or follow splashy mountain streams to roaring falls and cascades. Autumn hikers have crisp, dry air to sharpen their senses and a varied palette of fall colors to enjoy. www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hiking.htm

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

A journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers motorists spectacular views of Southern Appalachia’s diverse beauty for 469 uninterrupted miles. Blue-misted mountains, cascading waterfalls, rolling pasture, and gorges banked with wildflowers greet hikers of all skill levels among the more than 100 varied and intriguing trails in North Carolina and Virginia. www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=40