A hiker relaxes and takes in the view from Pickens Nose

A hiker relaxes and takes in the view from Pickens Nose out cropping, Franklin NC

If you’re in the Franklin area and looking for some breath taking mountain views, we have a short list of some of our favorite spots here for you and a link to directions will be at the bottom of this article. In no particular order, the following is a list of the more popular places you can go and unwind and take in the long range views of the mountains of WNC.

Pickens Nose Trail

This name might make you giggle, or at least take a second glance, but the truth be told, Pickens Nose trail is one of the most scenic trails in Franklin. It is unique, that, when you begin your hike you’re in a canopy of rhododendron trees and in only a matter of 10 minutes, you’re able to make some short side path explorations to eastern views (pictured below) which are perfect for catching the golden rays of the sun rising and then just up the trail to the out cropping, you have the sun setting in the evening.  To make it an even more enticing trail to go hike, it’s a relatively easy hike with little elevation gain.

Sun rising from an out cropping on the Pickens Nose Trail, Franklin

Sun rising from an out cropping on the Pickens Nose Trail, Franklin

Wayah Bald Tower

If seeing the sun rise out of the east in a wide open view is your thing, look no further than the Wayah Bald Lookout Tower. A 35 minute drive from Franklin gets you to the trail head, which is a paved path, and is a meager 5 minute walk for most people that opens up to a view that takes your breath away. Wayah Bald Tower is also on the famous Appalachian Trail, offering through hikers shelter for a night or in a passing storm. The tower is a “rock and mortar” structure that was used by the Forestry Service for spotting wildfires in the Nantahala National Forest.

Wayah Bald Lookout Tower - hikers take a rest before continuing on their AT hike

Wayah Bald Lookout Tower – hikers take a rest before continuing on their AT hike

Weather at the tower can vary greatly from that in Franklin, so be sure to have a sweater or light jacket in spring, and be prepared for winds and changing conditions. The tower is a great place to wait out a rain storm if the need arises. Another advantage to the tower, is that you can bet that it won’t be too crowded for the sunrise, as many other locations in WNC can tend to be.

The sun peaks out from the mountains in the east - Wayah Bald Tower - Franklin, NC

The sun begins to rise from behind the mountains – Wayah Bald Tower – Franklin, NC

Siler Bald

If you’re looking for a hike that offers beautiful views both east and west, and a bit more strenuous than the first two locations. The hike to Siler Bald is via the Appalachian Trail, and in our directions, is a 4 mile round trip hike. We say that, because you can access Siler Bald via Winding Stair Gap on Highway 64, however, that hike is much longer. The Wayah Crest access point brings you through the mountains gently gaining altitude through Snowbird Gap, then opening up with a wide view at Siler Bald.

An early Spring AT hiker descends Siler Bald heading north

An early Spring AT hiker descends Siler Bald heading north on his hike to Maine

Wesser Bald

Another one of the best views in all of Franklin is the one from the lookout tower on Wesser Bald. A total 360 degree view from the wide open flat tower platform allows those unafraid of heights to view the beauty of our area unlike any other view at all. The tower stands tall among the growth of the forest, but rises above it like a well kept secret.

A father and son take in the view from Wesser Bald Tower

A father and son take in the view from Wesser Bald Tower

If you’re looking for a place to get away from the noise and crowds, Wesser Bald is it. The hike to the tower is a moderate 4 mile round trip hike via another section of the Appalachian Trail, that is unequaled by any other tower in the area.

Looking out from the platform of Wesser Bald Tower - Franklin, NC

Looking out from the platform of Wesser Bald Tower – Franklin, NC

Albert Mountain Lookout Tower

Last, but certainly not least, is the lookout tower on Albert Mountain. Though the observation area of the tower is not accessible to hikers, you can still climb up the stairs and get some incredible views to both east and west. The one mile round trip hike is fairly easy, and well worth the drive to look out to the east back towards Franklin, and if you’re looking for a little perspective and an added element for a sunset, the tower structure offers just that, if, you’re willing to climb the metal stairs and don’t mind heights!

Looking down from Albert Mountain Tower - Franklin, NC makes one feel very small

Looking down from Albert Mountain Tower – Franklin, NC makes one feel very small

The magic of the setting sun from Albert Mountain Tower - Franklin, NC

The magic of the setting sun from Albert Mountain Tower – Franklin, NC

DIRECTIONS

For a complete listing of Franklin area hikes, along with information for lodging, dining, entertainment and gem mining, head to the main page of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce website here Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce and navigate to the What to See & Do tab on the front page. There you will find everything you need to start your next adventure, whether you’re visiting us for the first time or you’re a long time resident, there’s always something new to explore in beautiful Franklin, NC

Snapshots From Franklin, NC is provided via funding from the Franklin/Nantahala TDC. Text and photography are by Eric Haggart of Timeless Moments Imaging located here in Franklin, NC. For more information about the images in Snapshots From Franklin, NC – you can connect with Eric on his Facebook page here Timeless Moments Imaging.