bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Trip planning: Spring in the NC mountains

Blue Ridge vista from the summit of Graybeard Mountain
the view from Greybeard Mountain near Black Mountain

The Airstream just came home from the shop–you may recall from the end of our last trip that we had a nonfunctioning hot water heater bypass, damage from the exploded tire, and a missing rock guard. Everything appears to be ship shape now, so it’s time for a road trip!

As we started thinking about getting away to the mountains, a friend mentioned a recent trip to Franklin, NC and his description piqued our interest. We started looking at combining Franklin with the reliably super Asheville and impressive newcomer to AirstreamDog Black Mountain for an easy and fun six-day jaunt.

With the help of a trip planning post we wrote for the Smokies in 2020, our never-ending Asheville to-do list, and our Black Mountain-insider friend, we now have a bunch of ideas. Here’s what we’re thinking:


this is *not* Franklin, NC; it is Franklin, WV. these were Bugsy’s predecessors 22 years ago!

Franklin is a quaint mountain town just over an hour southwest of Asheville, in the Nantahala National Forest. The site of Franklin was once an important Cherokee town called Nikwasi, and the remains of the 1000-year-old Nikwasi Mound are still visible in downtown Franklin. Nowadays, the area is mostly known for gem mining and hiking. The RV park in downtown Franklin is walking distance to everything, so we’re super excited to have a spot reserved there.


Of course our first order of business in Franklin will be exploring the downtown. I’m interested in the Franklin Gem and Mineral Museum in the old jail, and there’s a Mother’s Day Gemboree gem show while we’re in town! Downtown also houses a Scottish Tartans Museum, a greenway along the Little Tennessee River, and the aforementioned Nikwasi Mound.


Both the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail pass close to Franklin, so there’s no shortage of stellar hiking for us to enjoy. We identified five hikes in our 2020 planning post; that list may change based on a) it’s four years later, and b) Bugsy’s hike length limit is down to four-ish miles. Let’s see…

  • This is a 4-mile out-and-back on the Bartram Trail with waterfalls and views just minutes from downtown
  • This out-and-back on the AT to Siler Bald (there’s also a loop hike but commenters said it’s better to do the out-and-back) is just under four miles with 360° views at the top; it’s about a 25-minute drive from downtown. Or make it a 9-mile trek and start closer to town.
  • Wayah Bald is a very popular lookout tower near Franklin, but outside of January – March cars can drive up to the peak, making us not want to hike there in May
  • Then there are several hikes that begin 40+ minutes from downtown Franklin that I’m not going to include because we’re not interested in spending that much time in the car after driving over five hours to Franklin!

Eating and drinking

Franklin has two breweries, Lazy Hiker and Currahee, both walking distance from the campground. I imagine we’ll hit both and report back. There’s also a beer garden near Lazy Hiker, a hybrid coffeeshop/pub, and a “tasting station” for a vineyard that’s also a restaurant–among their charcuterie options is a barkuterie of assorted doggy treats!

Restaurants we’ve identified in our research (which didn’t uncover the barkuterie, so that just went on our spreadsheet) include Gracious Plates, a farm-to-fork restaurant with lots of salad options; 828 Cafe for breakfast bowls or burritos; and Brooklyn Bagels for a sandwich to take hiking.


Bugsy licking her chops at White Duck Taco
Bugsy at White Duck Taco in Asheville

I’m just going to plunk our to-do list from our most recent Asheville post here:

  • Dilbar, a competitor to Chai Pani, for a drool-worthy array of Indian street food
  • Cultura, a fine dining restaurant from the Wicked Weed folks, from a Southern Living article
  • All Day Darling for breakfast
  • The Market Place, 2024 James Beard Outstanding Restaurant nominee
  • Plant, whose chef is a 2024 James Beard Best Chef Southeast nominee (don’t tell J it’s a vegan restaurant)
  • Diatribe Brewing Co in West Asheville, reco from the New Origin beertender
  • Do a French Broad kayak trip, like this one past the Biltmore and River Arts District (and potentially past our Airstream!)

Black Mountain

downtown Black Mountain
downtown Black Mountain

We’ve only been to Black Mountain once, and were delighted by the sweet downtown, the proximity to fantastic hiking, and the wide array of food and drink options. Although we crammed a lot into our two days there last fall, there are still items on our to-do list, and our Black Mountain-consigliere-friend Amy has added to the list.


Just up the hill from Black Mountain, the wee town of Montreat has 20 trails and over 40 miles of hiking. Last trip, we did the best of the bunch, Greybeard, and in 2017 we did this complicated Lookout Mountain loop cobbling together multiple trails. Looking at all the Montreat hike options, I think these are our best bets:

  • This loop including Lookout Mountain is good for Bugsy: only 3.4 miles and since it’s a loop she gets new smells the whole way.
  • If we want a similar loop with Lookout Mountain and Brushy Mountain for 5.7 miles we could hike this one.

Eating and drinking

We didn’t get to some places on our original list from Amy:

Goldfinch is her new addition to our list for dinner and cocktails.

Here’s our to-do list from last trip:

  • We spotted a Tacos sign next door to Dynamite at The Clean Plate, but they were only open Wednesday – Saturday (Google seems to think this place is no longer open)
  • Trailhead restaurant has a good-looking menu and was packed on Monday night
  • The Railyard looks like a really cool outdoor music and beer venue if the weather’s nice
  • Bush Farmhouse makes South African food using local ingredients
  • Straightaway Cafe and Pub looks adorable but it’s a 16-minute drive south of town (this might not be alive anymore either)
  • Must eat non-breakfast tacos at Taco Billy

And our research also uncovered Bowl in the Wall, serving rice and noodle bowls.

happy dog on max patch
Bugsy on Max Patch near Asheville

***Edit*** Here’s what we ended up doing!


One response to “Trip planning: Spring in the NC mountains”

  1. […] We visited Franklin in early May 2024 as part of our short Spring in the NC Mountains trip. […]

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