Whether you're looking for high adventure, beautiful scenery or a week on the greens, the richness and diversity of our beautiful mountains provides for a multitude of wonderful activities. Here are some ideas of ways to spend your time during your stay in Franklin, North Carolina – home of mountain treasures and simple pleasures.
Guide to Gem Mining in the Franklin, North Carolina Area!
Gem mining has been a favorite activity for visitors to the Franklin area for years. As you read on you'll discover our heritage as “Gem Capital of the World” as well as how to mine, what to look for as you mine and complete descriptions of active mines in the greater Franklin area!
Keep in mind most mines are open from spring through autumn. As always have you have further questions or need additional information call our toll free number or use the request information form link found at the top of this page.
Mining History In Macon County – Franklin, NC
Mining for ruby and sapphire began in Macon County in 1870. Called corundum, the minerals were mined commercially for abrasives and gave work to many men. Corundum and other minerals, mica and kaolin, were hauled to the railroad by horse and wagon and shipped out of Macon County in large quantities. Tiffany's showed an interest in the area in the 1890's but two other companies, American Prospecting & Mining Co. and US Ruby Mining Co., began work hoping to find the source of the rubies found in the corundum mines. Both companies ended the search in the early part of the 20th century leaving the area open to rockhounds and gem enthusiasts. The source hasn't been found – yet.
What To Bring To The Mines
Bring ziploc bags or a plastic butter dish to take your stones home in (no glass). Rubber gloves are handy if it's chilly or you have a nice manicure and a hat and some sunblock if it's sunny although many mines provide cover on the “flume”. The wooden benches get hard as the day goes on so you might need a cushion to sit on or old towels work well too and you can use them to wipe your hands. Wear old clothes and tennis shoes or boots and bring a plastic bag to put your muddy shoes in and an extra pair to wear in the car. Bring a picnic lunch, most mines provide a place to eat out of rain or sun, plan to spend the day! And you will need to bring the camera for those pictures to show friends you played in the mud in North Carolina and found beautiful gem stones.
How To Mine
Most mines sell gem dirt in a bucket or bag (few allow digging) and you may have to pay an admission fee for the day. You are provided with a screen for washing and there is a flume – a trough of running water – with a bench along it's length. The dirt goes in the screen, the screen goes in the water and the mud is washed away. Well, it's not quite that easy but it is completely safe and mine operators are on hand to help with technique and identification.
What To Look For At The Mines
The “3 C's” of gem mining are Color, Clarity and Crystals. Gemstones come in every color from white to black. Garnets are glassy red , pink or reddish brown. Rubies are silky red, sapphires are every other color, and both have a crystal formation with 6 sides. Moonstones are pearly white to gray and peach to chocolate brown with a flat box-like shape. Quartz comes in many forms, sometimes clear colors like Amethyst and Citrine, sometimes opaque colors with mica flecks like Aventurine and of course clear with sides – quartz crystals. That's just a few of the many gemstones found at local mines. Stop in at one of the many gem shops for a crash course in gem identification or spend some time at The Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum in the old jailhouse on Phillips Street in historic downtown Franklin.
This area is rich in a variety of hiking trails. This listing can only cover a few -highlights. The Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine) passes just a few miles West of Franklin, and can be accessed at many places. The Bartram Trail also passes through Franklin, going East-West, and offers many highlights. Learn more about hiking/see maps .
In addition to some wonderful trout streams, we have trout farms where all you have to bring is a desire for fresh trout for dinner. They'll furnish the bait and tackle, you cast and catch, they clean, and you provide the skillet for cooking. Both Out-of-State and Residential Hunting & Fishing Licences are available in locations throughout the area. Click for Fishing Businesses.
Canoeing, Rafting & Tubing
White water rafting or kayaking are available on the famous Nantahala and Ocoee Rivers. Other area streams including the Little Tennessee River are perfect for Canoeing & Tubing. Area Outfitters can accommodate large and small groups, beginners and aces. Click for Rafting Businesses or Kayaking, Canoeing & Tubing Businesses.
Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts
Located in Franklin, North Carolina, this 1,500 seat state-of-the-art facility presents the finest in performing arts to the surrounding towns. Performances include passion plays, musical productions, professional drama troupes, dance and choral festivals, recitals, and various genres including country, bluegrass, gospel, pop, contemporary Christian, and more. The stunning architecture, technical facilities, and impeccable acoustics provide the highest professional standards for both the audience and the performers.
With the main focus on family entertainment, this is a place to come and enjoy a good time with all that Franklin has to offer. The center nurtures the development, understanding, and appreciation of the arts throughout the community and the region. The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts is one of the premiere venues for world-class performances and showcases artists in Western North Carolina and the surrounding areas. greatmountainmusic.com
Take in the spectacular views of the Nantahala National Forest on horseback. Four trails are located adjacent to the Hurricane Primitive Campground, just west of Franklin, ranging from 3.5 to 8 miles in length. The Hurricane Creek Horse Camp has stalls available which are required for overnight lodging of horses.
For those who do not own their own horses, local stables provide rides for a nominal fee. Reservations are strongly recommended but not required. Click for Horseback Riding Businesses.
We wouldn't be a destination point without golf, so pack your clubs and your golf shoes and plan on hitting the greens early. With our wonderfully mild weather, there are few times when you will have the course to yourself. Click for Golf Courses.
A true cycling paradise, Franklin, NC has great scenic views and winding roads for motorcyclists and a fair share of bicycle events and has become a natural hub for the sport. Biking enthusiasts have found nearby terrain ideal and the trail possibilities endless. Click for more cycling info .
Rafting isn't the only water sport people enjoy during their visit to the North Carolina mountains. Kayaking information can be found here.
Nantahala National Forest
The Nantahala is the largest of North Carolina's four National Forests. Over 152,000 acres of the forest lie within Macon County. The forest offers a wide variety of recreation activities from mountain climbing and hiking to white water rafting. You'll also find abundant wildlife, unique plant communities and wildflowers including endangered species of plants, waterfalls and breathtaking mountain vistas. Be sure to keep your camera handy as your explore some of the oldest mountains on earth. Learn more about Nantahala National Forest.
Visit one of the area's zipline tours for an adventuresome day. Flying down ziplines and walking through nature trails are just a couple of the activities available. Click on these tour companies for more information