Franklin will again celebrate its appreciation of Appalachian trail hikers with the town’s first festival of 2014, April Fools Trail Days, on Saturday, March 29. This day-long event will take place in Historic Downtown Franklin and bring together AT hikers, locals and visitors for a great event featuring informative and educational workshops, hiking related vendors and exhibits.
“April Fools Trail Days was conceived in part by our designation as an Appalachian Trail Gateway Community,” said Linda Schlott, Franklin Main Street Program executive director. “We encourage everyone to come out and support the hiking community that makes such an impact on our town each year.”
Franklin was the first town to receive this designation along the 2,181-mile trail stretching from Georgia to Maine. 2013 marks the fifth year for April Fools Trail Days in Franklin.
The activities begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and all events will be held in the lower level of Franklin Town Hall.
– Beginning Birding, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., with John Sill, renowned local birder, Franklin Bird Club. During this workshop find out what it takes to begin bird watching, how they feed, where to look, what tools are needed, and how to identify local birds.
– Path of Life, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., featuring Amy Allen, AT thru-hiker and author of “Summoning the Mountains: Pilgrimage into Forty.” Allen will share her perspective on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail both solo and alongside her two teenaged sons during her 2006 hike. On the eve of turning 40, Willow (Allen’s trail name) sets out to realize a lifelong dream of a thruhike despite single motherhood, a mortgage and usual mid-life obligations. Beginning at 2 p.m., Allen will be personally signing copies of her book at Books Unlimited on Main Street.
– Environmental Monitoring and Management on the Appalachian Trail, 1:45 to 2:45 p.m., with John Odell, Resource Management Coordinator, ATC Regional Office, Asheville. Join the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for a discussion about environmental initiatives and citizen science opportunities in the trail corridor. Learn about controlling exotic invasive plants, monitoring rare plants, and tracking the seasonal life cycles of native plants in North Carolina and beyond.
– The Wilderness Act turns 50: History and Significance for the Southern Appalachians, 3 to 4 p.m., featuring Brent Martin and Jill Gottesman, The Wilderness Society, Sylva. Brent and Jill will present on the significance of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act (1964-2014), one of America’s most important landmarks in conservation legislation.
At the conclusion of each workshop, raffles will take place for items donated by Trail Days sponsors.
The Nantahala Hiking Club will be offering guided hikes in celebration of the event. These hikes are a great way to become familiar with the area’s trails. There are guided hikes that are perfect for both novices and seasoned hikers alike.
– Friday, March 28, Siler Bald depart Wayah Gap on the AT south to Snowbird Gap, and Siler Bald and return via Siler Bald Shelter trail. Total Hike Length: 4 mi Ease Rating; M. Leaders Bill and Sharon Van Horn, call (828)369-1983 for reservations
– Saturday, March 29 - Laural Fork Falls in South Carolina. Beautiful falls and large sheets of the rare Oconee Bells wildflower. Total Hike Length: 8 mi Ease Rating S. Leader: Don O'Neal, call 1-828-586-5723 for reservations
– Saturday, March 29, Wayah Crest to Wayah Bald on the AT mostly uphill to The Wayah Tower; 360 degree views, and maybe some early spring wildflowers. Total Hike Length: 4.2 mi. Leader: Gail Lehman, call (828)524-5298 for reservations
– Saturday, March 29, Bartram Trail loop from Wallace Branch. Nice woods trail next to a small stream, loops around onto a Forest Service trail. Total Hike Length: 2 mi Ease Rating: E. Leader: Kay Coriell, call (828)369-6820 for reservations
– Sunday, March 30, Wayah Bald to Wine Spring Bald. Take in the tower view then proceed south on the AT to Wine Spring Bald, exiting near the radio towers. Short shuttle. Nice wildflowers in this area. Total Hike Length: 2 mi. Ease Rating E-M. Leader: Mary Stone, call (828)369-7352 for reservations
– Sunday, March 30 - Standing Indian Mountain trail on the AT. From Deep Gap, hike round-trip to Standing Indian in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness area. Total Hike Length: 4.8 mi Ease Rating: M. Leaders: Bill and Sharon Van Horn, call (828)369-1983 for reservations
Franklin First Baptist Church
The First Baptist Church of Franklin, is providing a free hiker breakfast to Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers March 14 through April 11. This four-week period represents the time period when most of the AT thru-hikers who start their northbound 2,185 mile hike from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mt. Katahdin, Me., will reach Franklin, 111 miles up the trail. This is the eighth year the church has offered the free hiker breakfast, a bit of “trail magic,” and their way of supporting Franklin, one of 39 formally designated AT Communities. In addition to the breakfast, the church offers to take a photo of each hiker and mail it to a friend or loved one along with a note written by the hiker.
Last year, First Baptist Church fed 595 hikers from 44 states and seven countries. It took 42 church volunteers contributing 592 hours, leaving hikers with a full belly and a good feeling about Franklin.
Hiker Bash and More
Running in conjunction with April Fools Trail Days is the Annual Hiker Bash hosted by Ronnie Haven at Sapphire Inn on East Main Street.
This facet of the weekend is a great way to connect, share stories and advice on hiking the AT and fill up on some good eats. The Hiker Bash will begin at 6 p.m. on both March 28 and 29.
April Fools Trail Days is sponsored by the Town of Franklin, Franklin Main Street Program and the Nantahala Hiking Club. For additional information visit http://www.aprilfoolstraildays.com/.