Franklin is gearing up for influx of AT hikers

Hikers coming into town often stop by the Franklin sign in front of Town Hall for a selfie marking their visit to Macon County. Photo by Vickie Carpenter

Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

For many years, Franklin has been an oasis for weary section- and through-hikers on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Most people start their journey in Springer Mountain, Ga., in early spring with their sights on Mount Katahdin, Maine, as the end of the 2,180-mile trail, or they target specific destinations and complete sections as time allows. And Franklin – the first town to become an Appalachian Trail Community 10 years ago – just happens to be one of the first main stops for hikers en route from Georgia to refresh, restock backpacks, and participate in Macon County activities and culture.
An Appalachian Trail Community meeting was held Feb. 11 at Altered Frequencies in Franklin. Attending were representatives from the Town of Franklin, Macon County, Macon County Library, U.S. Forest Service, Mainspring Conservation Trust, as well as local businesses, churches, and organizations. The Council worked together to solidify plans for A.T. Mile 110 events and offerings, which will take place from the first day of spring, March 19, through Earth Day, April 22 (the 50th anniversary of Earth Day).
Included in the upcoming schedule are the following:
– Flix, Food & Brews at Outdoor 76, March 27, 5 p.m.
– Nantahala Hiking Club’s Thru Hiker Chowdown at Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, March 28, 12 p.m.
– Gooder Grove Hostel’s Hiker Hunger Games (register at Lazy Hiker), March 28, 2 p.m.
– Hiker Bash at Currahee Brewing Company, April 3, 5 p.m.
– Springtopia Music Festival at Altered Frequencies, April 3-5
– AT110 Fest at Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub, April 11, 7 p.m.
– Outdoor Music Jam & Gear Exchange at Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, April 18, 6 p.m.
The coinciding annual “Walking with Spring” at Macon County Public Library will include at least a half dozen free programs such as “The World Before Your Feet” documentary, April 2 at 2 p.m.; Yoga for Hikers (and for everyone else), April 8 at 6 p.m.; Are You BearWise? April 15 at 6 p.m.; and, “Cultivating the Wild: William Bartram’s Travels” documentary, April 29 at 6 p.m. For a complete listing of “Walking with Spring” programs, contact or visit the Macon County Public Library.
Debi Gedling, secretary for the Nantahala Hiking Club, attended the Feb. 11 planning meeting.
“We want to encourage as many local businesses and individuals as possible to participate and reach out to hikers,” said Gedling, “… whatever is possible to make Franklin a great place for hikers to be.”
Anyone can attend meetings and become involved in the Council’s planned agenda.
“It’s publicity for businesses and organizations, and it’s a way for individuals to volunteer,” she said. “And the more that hikers talk up our town, the better it is for all.”
The website provides ongoing information. The Franklin A.T. Community Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m., with the exception of June and July, at various locations in Franklin that are announced at each meeting. The March 10 meeting is scheduled to take place at the Macon County Public Library. Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Council can contact Deborah Gedling,