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Don DePierro (L) and San Ho Choi (R) stand in front of a newly constructed information kiosk.

The Nantahala Hiking Club recently constructed two information kiosks, with materials provide by the USFS Nantahala Ranger District, on the Appalachian Trail (AT) at Winding Stair Gap.

Winding Stair Gap is the closest access point to the AT from Franklin. It is located on US 64 West 10 miles from the overpass where US 23 goes South to Atlanta.

The kiosks, located just north and south of the gap, highlight Franklin as a designated AT Community, identify hiker services located in Franklin and provide area recreational information.



Seven maintainers from the Nantahala Hiking Club (NHC), the Franklin based Appalachian Trail (A.T.) maintaining club, received certification training on the use of the cross cut saw on June 13 and 14. The NHC maintains 59 miles of the A.T. and more than 30 miles of “blue blaze” trails leading to it. More than 12 miles of the A.T. that the NHC maintains are located in the federally designated Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area. Federally designated Wilderness Areas offer the highest level of land protection we, as citizens, can provide. Power tools (chain saws) are not allowed for trail maintenance. Maintenance in wilderness areas must be done by hand tools such as cross cut saws and axes.


Dangling 20 stories above the ground, higher than the tallest tree can be an exhilarating experience for anyone. But when you are connected to a cable that spans the link of five football fields zipping at about 35 miles an hour, the rush you get is indescribable.

Nestled just off the highway, Highlands Aerial Park provides guests with adrenaline rich mountain canopy tours day in and day out. The park’s owner, George Powell, said that since he first opened the zip lining course, his customer base has continued to grow and has now reached the corners of the globe.


The Highlands Biological Foundation (HBF) hosts free evening lectures on Thursdays throughout the summer focused on the theme of natural history and conservation, a popular tradition that began in the 1930s. Today, these lectures are known as the Zahner Conservation Lecture Series, which are presented by well-known regional scientists, historians, conservationists, artists, and writers. This year’s series will run through Sept. 4.

On Thursday, July 10, Jay Erskine Leutze will give a lecture titled, “Stand Up That Mountain: the Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail.” was raised in Chapel Hill, N.C., and lives in the southern Appalachian Mountains on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. Trained as an attorney, he has become a leading voice for state and federal conservation funding for investment in public lands. He is a trustee for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, one of the nation's most established land trusts. Leutze has won numerous awards, including The Reed Environmental Writing Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

On Thursday, July 17, Mary Pat Matheson will lecture on “The Art and Science of Botanical Gardens: Connecting People to Science and Nature.” Matheson is the president and CEO of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.


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