Welcome Hikers! Town rolling out the welcome mat

Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Eddie Thomas of Port Orange, Fla., puts his autograph on the hikers welcome sign on the square in downtown Franklin. Thomas began his journey from the start of the trail on Feb. 24 and stopped off in Franklin to refuel and recharge. Thomas is hoping to become a true thru-hiker, finishing the more than 2,000-mile trek at the terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Mt. Katahdin, Me. Photo by Vickie Carpenter


Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer

Welcoming Appalachian Trail (A.T.) hikers to the Town of Franklin is an annual affair. Hosted by the Franklin A.T. Community Council, the Franklin A.T. Celebration is a yearly event open to hikers, visitors and the general community and is held from the first day of spring to Earth Day.  

At the end of February, already more than 200 hikers were on the Appalachian Trail. Typically, thru- and section-hikers attempting the Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mt. Katahdin, Maine, trek start sometime in March. However, the mild winter encouraged more hikers onto the A.T. in January and February. The first main stop on the south-to-north A.T. trek is Franklin, 110 miles from Springer Mountain. Thousands of hikers leave the trail near Standing Indian or at Winding Stair on Hwy. 64 and are expected to take a break in the town, resupply, check shoes and equipment, and patronize businesses. 

From March 20 to April 22, hikers will also have opportunities to participate in the 2023 Franklin A.T. Celebration. 

The Schedule

– March 25, 5 p.m. – Hiker Bash at Currahee Brewing Co.

– March 31 – All-weekend 29th Anniversary Hiker Fest at Three Eagles Outfitters

– April 1, 12-2 p.m. – Nantahala Hiking Club Thru Hiker ChowDown at Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.; 3 p.m. Hiker Hunger Games & Gooder Grove’s Groovy Gathering at Gooder Grove Hostel

– April 7, 6 p.m. – AT110 Fest at The Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub

– April 8 – Nantahala Hiking Club’s Easter on the Trail-Trail Magic

– April 14, 5 p.m. – Food, Flix & Brews at Outdoor 76 with Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy

– April 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. – Happy Trails to You at Gracious Plates on Main

– April 22, 6 p.m. – Outdoor Music Jam & Gear Exchange at Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.

For A.T. hikers only, from March 14 through April 14, breakfast is also available at no charge at First Baptist Church in downtown Franklin. 

Franklin A.T. Community Council, which plans, organizes, and publicizes its annual celebration  as well as provides information to hikers and promotes the trail, is made up of representatives from the county commission, town council, town and county planners, the Nantahala Hiking Club, county school system, the library, the chamber of commerce, tourism businesses, and the United States Forest Service. The local council was developed as part of the broader trail-wide A.T. community network, specifically the national A.T. Conservancy in Harper’s Ferry, W.V.

For more information about the Franklin A.T. Celebration, visit www.atmile110.com or Facebook and Instagram. 

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