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View from the top of Wayah Bald Mountain


The Appalachian Mountains, often called the Appalachians, are a vast system of mountains in eastern North America and surround Macon County. The Appalachians are believed to have been the highest mountains on Earth roughly 460 million years ago during the Ordovician Period, much like the Himalayas today (please see photo below), when all of today's continents were joined as the super continent Pangaea. (16) The Appalachian chain is a barrier to east-west travel as it forms a series of alternating ridgelines and valleys oriented in opposition to any road running east-west. (16)

"Beautiful to look at, but I don't think so"

The Appalachian Mountain Range is mostly located in the United States but extends into southeastern Canada, forming a zone from 100 to 300 miles (160 to 480 km) wide, running from the island of Newfoundland 1,500 miles (2,400 km) south-westward to Central Alabama in the United States. The system is divided into a series of ranges, with the individual mountains averaging around 3,000 ft (900 m). The highest of the group is Mount Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,684 feet (2,037 m), which is the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi River. (17)

Throughout Macon County and Western North Carolina there are a variety of mountains that cater to the outdoor person's interest that may include: hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, scenic site seeing, having a family picnic or just taking a drive: below please find some popular Western North Carolina Mountains in the area that offer a full outdoor bounty experience.

Wayah Bald

Wayah Bald Observation Tower

Wayah Bald resides just west of Franklin, NC and is a high-altitude treeless open area in the Nantahala National Forest. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point (5,385 feet); the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection (please see photo below). Wayah Bald is a popular destination for hikers, especially during Spring, when the rhododendron and azaleas are in bloom, both the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail cross at Wayah Bald and maybe easily accessed (below please find a distant view of Franklin, NC from Wayah Bald Mountain).

View Towards Franklin, NC from Wayah Bald Mountain

Pickens Nose

"Hikers enjoying a Fall day at Pickens Nose"

Pickens Nose is located within the thousands of acres of the Nantahala National Forest just outside of Franklin, NC and is surrounded by the Coweta Hydrological Laboratory.

Pickens Nose is one of the outstanding peaks of the Standing Indian Basin and is a rocky ridge near some higher, but no more intimidating summits that make up the highest uplands south of the Great Smoky Mountains. In addition, Pickens Nose is a site with a number of opportunities for rock climbing, site seeing and rappelling.

The rocky ridge at Pickens Nose is named after one of the area's resident mass murderers of the Cherokee, General Andrew Pickens of upstate South Carolina. The Shape of the peak is the form of a nose and can be found humorous to some folks.

To get to Pickens Nose from Franklin, NC take 64 West to Wallace Gap Road heading toward the Standing Indian Campground. Pass the campground on Forest Service Road 67, passing first the campground entrance and beyond the Information Center. Take this gravel road for about six miles until you come to a fork with a sign indicating "Albert Mountain" on the left and "Coweta" on the right, 67 is on the left and the right turn is Forest Service Road 83. Drive until you see a gate. If the gate is closed, park there and continue on foot for about fifty feet to the Pickens Nose Trail which will be on your right (please see photo above of Pickens Nose).

 Albert Mountain
"Breathtaking view one morning from Albert Mountain"
Just west of Franklin, NC and like Pickens Nose, Albert Mountain is located within the Standing Indian Basin, within the vast Nantahala National Forest. Albert Mountain’s summit is very rocky and has quite a steep ascent. On the summit of Albert Mountain, there is a fire lookout tower that was built in the early 50s to replace an older, wooden structure on Standing Indian Mountain.

Albert Mountain reaches over 5,100 feet in elevation. Hikers may enjoy the great views from the summit ledge or a full 360 degree view from the fire tower. For a challenging hike, park south of the summit. From Franklin, NC take 64 West to Wallace Gap Road toward Standing Indian Campground. Pass the Campground entrance on FS Road 67 and continue past the Information Center, where the road turns to gravel. Drive on past the horse camp area to the intersection with FS Road 83. You will shortly see the sign for "Albert Mountain" and park at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail, take the Appalachian Trail up to Albert Mountain for a very short hike, its about a half a mile (please see view from Albert Mountain above).

Whiteside Mountain

Whiteside Mountain

Whiteside Mountain is a mountain in Jackson County, North Carolina between Cashiers, Highlands, North Carolina, and the Georgia border. Whiteside Mountain can boast the highest cliffs in Eastern North America. It also has a feature called Devil's Courthouse, not to be confused with the Devil's Courthouse 20 miles away in Transylvania County, NC.

Since the 1980s, the park service has tried to restrict access to the Courthouse and has allowed the foot trail to it to grow over because of dangers such as strong winds. They also did not want accidents from paragliding and similar activities taking place from the mountain top or from the Courthouse. There is also an overhang, a small platform less than 7 feet in diameter, connected to Whiteside as if it were a cantilever. Similar overhangs can be found on the Appalachian Trail (please see photo above of Whiteside Mountain).

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome is a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. At an elevation of 6,643 feet, it is the highest mountain in the Great Smokey Mountains, the highest point in the state of Tennessee, and the highest point along the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail. East of the Mississippi River, only Mount Mitchell and Mount Craig are higher.

The Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest which covers Clingmans Dome occurs only at the highest elevations in the southeastern United States, and has more in common with forests at northern latitudes than with the forests in the adjacent valleys. Clingmans Dome stands prominently above the surrounding terrain, rising nearly 5,000 feet from base to summit

Clingmans Dome is protected as part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A paved road, closed in winter (December 1 through March 31) connects it to U.S. Highway 441. The concrete observation tower, built in 1959, offers a panoramic view of the mountains in every direction. An air quality monitoring station, operated by the Environmental Protection Agency, is the second highest in eastern North America (please see photo above of Clingmans Dome).