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Day drive to Franklin, NC-- Ideas and suggestions needed

New Orleans, LA
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Day drive to Franklin, NC-- Ideas and suggestions needed

In October we will be visiting in Townsend, TN. We will ride out to Franklin, NC on one of our days so the girls (6 and 13) can experience gem mining (none of us have done this before). Plus my husband and I would like to see the NC side of the Smokies. Anyone have any suggestions on the best route from Townsend to Franklin? Where we can possibly see things along the way. And is there anything we must do while in Franklin or along the way? Any places to get a special treat for the girls? Open to all suggestions. Thanks so much!!

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Townsend
Townsend
Tennessee
Franklin
Franklin
North Carolina Mountains, NC
Franklin
Franklin
Tennessee
2 replies to this topic
Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Day drive to Franklin, NC-- Ideas and suggestions needed

Coming from Townsend I would definitely take a drive through Cades Cove - very scenic drive just on the Tennessee side of the Smokies. If you like a little adventure, loop back to Townsend via Richland Rd (aka Old Cades Cove Rd). This is a twisty one-way road that is gravel most of the way, but usually well-maintained (would not try it after a rain though). All other roads into and around Cades Cove are paved, so don't need to use Richland if you don't want to.

Once you exit Cades Cove, turn right on Little River Canyon Gorge Rd. This is a very pretty drive that runs along the banks of the river - very twisty but it is paved two lane and kept in good condition. There are some nice turnouts to waterfalls along this road, but some require hiking (make sure you keep an eye on the children - flowing water can be dangerous).

Little River Gorge Rd will eventually dump you out onto US 441 - turn right (south) and make a stop at Newfound Gap for some nice views. If you have time, take the side drive to Clingman's Dome and hike to the top of the observation tower there (short hike on a paved trail, but kind of steep). Clingman's Dome is the highest point on the Appalachian Trail - If the weather is clear you can see for miles in all directions.

Continue on US 441 which will eventually take you to Franklin. You might consider a stop in Cherokee NC, but a lot of folks find it too touristy. Your kids might enjoy Oconaluftee Indian Village though.

How long are you in Franklin? There are some nice waterfalls in that area that require little or no hiking to view. Nearby Highlands NC makes a nice day trip in conjunction with the waterfall drive

-JimG

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Townsend
Townsend
Tennessee
Cades Cove
Cades Cove
4,471 Reviews
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Tennessee
Tennessee
United States
Franklin
Franklin
Tennessee
Cherokee
Cherokee
North Carolina Mountains, NC
Oconaluftee Indian Village
Oconaluftee Indian...
754 Reviews
Cherokee, NC
Highlands
Highlands
North Carolina Mountains, NC
New Orleans, LA
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2. Re: Day drive to Franklin, NC-- Ideas and suggestions needed

Great Suggestions!! Thank you!! I will use these paths at some point on our trip because we will spend most of our time in the National Park. We only will be in Franklin the one day. We will probably leave our cabin early in the morning to arrive by 9am or so. I am thinking the gem mining should only last two hours or so. By noon the girls will definitely be ready to go get something to eat. I have nothing else planned there. My husband's only request is to get back to the cabin before dark. Depending on what time we leave Franklin to come back we could take a different route in than we did out. I was wondering too if we could drive through the tail of the dragon either coming or going. We love a scenic route, but like to avoid high traffic areas like Gatlinburg. We are nervous about the traffic because it will be October. I can tell you that we are all very excited to be going soon!!

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Franklin
Franklin
Tennessee
Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg
Sevier County, TN
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