The Month-Long Appalachian Trail Celebration You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Every year, hundreds of hikers set out from Springer Mountain in early spring with dreams of becoming one of the few who will complete a “thru-hike” of the Appalachian Trail. If you’re reading this article, you most certainly already know that. What you may not know is that in an otherwise sleepy and quaint little mountain town in North Carolina, as days begin to get longer, early wildflowers begin to blossom, and thru-hiker hopefuls start to walk toward Maine, a celebration begins.

Photo provided by Franklin ATCC

Franklin, North Carolina was the very first ATC designated Appalachian Trail Community, and Franklin takes its status as a trail town very seriously. Each year, the first day of spring signals the beginning of what will be a month-long celebration of all things Appalachian Trail. Dozens of local business, volunteers, trail organizations, and town representatives work together to honor the town’s connection to the Trail and to serve the hundreds of hikers that will call Franklin home for a night or two on their journey northward. During the weeks-long celebration event that runs from the Spring Solstice to Earth Day, you’ll find hiker-focused events being held throughout the town. Many local businesses will offer hiker-specific discounts and freebies, and local volunteers and organizations alike will host hiker-feeds.

Photo provided by Franklin ATCC

Why does Franklin spend an entire month celebrating the Appalachian Trail each year? The answer is simple: Franklin has a long and interwoven history that ties into the Appalachian Trail community and culture. From Rufus Morgan’s naturalist studies in the area in the 1940s, to the creation of Nantahala Hiking Club in the late 1960s and their dedication to volunteer trail maintenance, to the founding of the Franklin Appalachian Trail Community Council in the early 2000’s, Franklin can trace it’s connection to the Appalachian Trail back to the beginning. Franklin is committed not only to maintaining and honoring the section of trail that runs through Macon County and Nantahala National Forest, but also to fostering a community atmosphere both locally and up and down the Trail’s storied 2000+ mile length.

Photo provided by Kim Robin

This year as part of Franklin’s annual AT Celebration event, you’ll find the following events happening between the dates of March 19 and April 27th — a full SIX weeks of Appalachian Trail-focused festivities. Whether you’re stopping in during your thru-hike for a nero or zero day, doing a quick resupply on your section hike, or are a local or visitor to the region who is just interested in learning more about the AT and communing with other Trail enthusiasts, there is an event for you. Stop in, stay a while, and Discover Franklin!

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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Comments 1

  • David Johnson : Mar 30th

    Hello, I’m from Norco California. Graduated from Norco high in 1975. I’ll be doing the trail, hopefully, a full through hike, starting in May, 2026 at age 70. See you there.


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