Celebrate the Appalachian Trail season

Whether you’re roughing it on the AT or just looking for a fun way to spend your Saturday, several upcoming AT festivals in Western North Carolina are sure to fit the bill. These events celebrate hikers, hiking and all things AT-related, just in time for the glut of through-hikers reaching the area after stepping off from Springer Mountain in Georgia earlier this month.


Hiker Haze at Fontana Village

Check out Fontana Village’s AT celebration March 26 and 27. Each day is packed full of events ranging from a corn hole competition to a Native American artifacts presentation. Try your luck at Karaoke or roast the perfect smore over a campfire. The full schedule is online at www.fontanavillage.com/events. 


April Fool’s Trail Day in Franklin

Festivities spread across three days, March 28-30, and include everything from guided hikes to movie screenings to a celebration of the Wilderness Act’s 50th anniversary. Check out the schedule and mark your calendar. 

Friday, March 28

• Guided hike to Siler Bald, leaving from Wayah Gap. 4 miles, medium, RSVP 828.369.1983

• 6 p.m. Hiker Bash at Sapphire Inn. Food, trail stories and hiking advice.

Saturday, March 29 

• 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.: Beginning Birding workshop with local birder John Sill. Learn where to look, what they eat, what you need and how to identify local birds. Franklin Town Hall, bottom floor.

• 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Path of Life, a presentation from through-hiker and author Amy Allen. Allen’s book Summoning the Mountains: Pilgrimage into Forty tells of the 2006 hike she shared with her two teenage sons as a divorced, single 40-year-old. Franklin Town Hall, bottom floor.

• 2 p.m.: Amy Allen book signing, Franklin Town Hall, bottom floor.

• 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.: Monitoring and Management on the Appalachian Trail, a discussion about citizen science with Appalachian Trail Conservancy resource manager John Odell. Learn about invasive plant control, plant monitoring and life cycles. Franklin Town Hall, bottom floor. 

• 3 to 4 p.m.: The Wilderness Act turns 50:  History and Significance for the Southern Appalachians, a presentation on the significance of the act’s 50th anniversary by Jill Gottesman and Brent Martin of the Wilderness Society. 

• 6 p.m.: Hiker Bash at Sapphire Inn. Food, trail stories and hiking advice.

• Guided hike to Laurel Fork Falls, S.C., 8 miles, strenuous, RSVP 828.586.5723.

• Guided hike to Wayah Tower, 4.2 miles, RSVP 828.524.5298.

• Guided hike to Bartram Trail Loop from Wallace Branch, 2 miles, easy, RSVP 828.369.6820.

Sunday, March 30

• Guided hike to Wine Spring Bald, shuttle from radio tower exit to Wayah Bald entrance, 2 miles, medium, RSVP 828.369.7352.

• Guided hike to Standing Indian Mountain from Deep Gap, 4.8 miles, medium, RSVP 828.369.1983. 


AT Founder’s Bridge Festival at Nantahala Outdoor Center

Come out April 4-5 for an event featuring everything from gear repair to training for citizen scientists. Enjoy a hiker’s feast and live music or check out the hiker Olympiad. 

Friday, April 4

• 7 p.m. “Walking With Freedom” movie screened at River’s End Restaurant.

Saturday, April 5

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Gear repair and vendor fair at Outfitter’s Store.

• 10 a.m. Phenology Training with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at NOC Outfitter’s Store, a workshop on the importance of monitoring plant and animal life cycles and the process of training citizen scientists to collect data. 

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. OBOZ Hiker Olympiad at NOC Outfitter’s Store. 

• 2 p.m. Warrior Hike presentation about a hike organized to raise money for returning military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. At NOC Outfitter’s Store.

• 5 p.m. Osprey Hiker’s Feast at Big Wesser BBQ + Brew

• 6 to 8 p.m. Sourwood Honey plays live at Big Wesser BBQ + Brew

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