|Scenic not Oft-traveled Roads|
Scenic not Oft-traveled Roads: From US 74 take NC 28 South (a twisty-turney two lane that is no shortcut) to the area outside of Franklin which used to be a center for Gem Mining. There are many opportunities to sit by the sluice looking for rubies, sapphires, etc.; from original mine sites to other sites which help ("salt") mother nature. Continue through Franklin and take US 64 West and watch for the turnoff to Wayah Bald (incredible vistas from an old CCC stone firetower) which takes you to NC 1310. On the way to Wayah Bald take a short hike to Rufus Morgan Falls. After enjoying the view from Wayah Bald continue West on NC 1310 past Nantahala Lake to US 74 and The Nantahala Gorge.
a. To watch whitewater rafters and kayakers turn right (East) on US 74.
b. To see one of few surviving virgin forests in the Eastern US (Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest) or the newest scenic drive (Cherohala Skyway), turn left on US 74. After two miles on US 74 turn right (North) on NC 129 and continue through Robbinsville. Approximately 2 miles North of the last stoplight in Robbinsville turn left (West) on NC 143 (There are signs to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and the Cherohala Skyway). Approximately 10 miles after turning West off US 129 onto NC 143 is the turn-off to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, or continue straight and NC 143 becomes the Cherohala Skyway, a scenic highway that easily rivals the Blue Ridge Parkway: well designed with wonderful vistas, plenty of stops at overlooks and short hikes.