The Little Tennessee Greenway

The Little Tennessee Greenway reflects all that is wonderful about Franklin NC.  The real beauty lies in walking it. Here are interesting facts that will enhance your walk along the Franklin NC Greenway.

Suli (pronounced sue lee) Marsh is north located at Riverview Sreet and Arthur Drake Roads. Its name is Cherokee for buzzard. The boardwalk access across the marsh is possible through the efforts of a volunteer construction crew.

Morris Trace, a name that honors a past Governor of North Carolina, runs along a river section that was badly degraded by river dredging operations for many years.

At the southern end of MorrisTrace, at the intersection of NE Main Street and the Little Tennessee River, you will find Big Bear Park. It is named for a fictional Cherokee character, Yanagwa (bear), from a nineteenth century novel set in our area. In addition to a picnic shelter, restroom facilities, and a barbeque pit, it houses a premier playground with units for infants to older youths. A water spray unit is a great attraction during the summer months. Erected by volunteers (including Duke retirees) and memorializing a young child lost in a day care fire in Franklin in 2000, it has become a favorite destination for children, their parents and grandparents, as well as school and camp groups.

Directly across East Main Street from Big Bear Park sits the headquarters for the Greenway-- FROGquarters. The FRiends Of the Greenway and community volunteers operate Frog Quarters. It serves several purposes. First and foremost it is an information center for the Greenway and a place to house the equipment necessary to keep the Greenway beautiful. In addition, it is a source of revenue to support the development of the Greenway. The FROGs operate a gourmet coffee bar and gift shop focusing on local arts and crafts. A reference library of nature books is open to the public, courtesy of the Macon County Library.

Current access to the next trail section after Big Bear Park requires Greenway users to cross over two town bridges to reach the opposite side of the river where the trail continues. Old Airport Trail begins a short way from East Main Street after passing behind East Franklin Shopping Center. North Carolina DOT will begin construction of a new replacement bridge later this year and this will allow walkers to pass under both bridges, come up on the south side of East Main and cross the bridge, without having to cross any lanes of traffic. 

The Old Airport Trail derives its name from the original Franklin Airport that occupied the site. After crossing a small footbridge over Cat Creek the visitor will find Rotary Picnic Pavillion built by the Daybreak Rotary Club of Franklin. Passing the pavillion, one will see a series of Adult Exercise Stations on the loop trail contributed by the Rotary Club of Franklin. These two projects were contributed in celebration of Rotary's centennial anniversary in 2005.

A Butterly Garden with a meandering pathway sits just beyond the pavillion. From spring through fall one can sit on the bench and watch these lovely insects flit from flower to flower doing their thing.Going south the Old Airport Trail wanders through a beautiful wetland area that is a haven for birds, butterflies, geese, rabbits, turtles and beavers. The wild flowers and native river cane abound along with the rare Virginia Spiraea along the river.

The trail ends at Salali (pronounced sa-la-li) Lane parking lot and the Tassee Bridge across the Little Tennessee. Salali is Cherokee for squirrel, and Tassee was a Cherokee village at the confluence of the Little Tennessee. and the Cullasaga Rivers. Salali Lane can be accessed from Highlands Road next to the Flea Market by entering Fox Ridge Rd and turning right at the Greenway sign.

Tassee Bridge is a beautiful arch bridge spanning the Little Tennessee and has been the site of numerous weddings and one memorial service.

Tallulah Falls Railroad Trail commences on the west bank of the river after crossing Tassee Bridge.

This historic railroad served residents and local commerce from the late1800's to mid 1900 between Franklin and Clayton, Ga. ( see link to Tallulah Falls RR) The engine was reversed downline and backed into the terminus at Depot St.

Tassee Park is reached after passing under Wells Grove Road highway bridge. This park has a picnic shelter, restrooms, a fishing pier and boat launch. LBJ Civilian Conservation Job Corps students built the barbeque pit and helped in pouring the slab for the shelter floor. They also built picnic tables and benches that are in the shelters and along the trail. Funds for the play equipment here was donated by Andy van Teeckelenburgh in memory of two of his relatives; APAC-Harrison Construction Company; The David Linn Foundation; and the Federated Women's Club of Franklin. Tassee Park may be accessed off Wells Grove Rd at Ulco Drive, near the lumber yard.

The Tallulah Falls RR Trail follows closely the old railroad bed. One of its prettiest sections runs through a railroad cut in a mountain, giving the walker a sense of solitude and peace. It seems far removed from town and troubles, among the ferns and other shade plants.

Nickajack Bridge is a transplant from the Cullasaga Community. A wonderful old, one-lane supension bridge it is sorely missed by the Cullasaga Community, but everyone appreciates its new home on the Little T Greenway. The bridge links the Tallulah Falls RR Trail and Traders' Path, the next section.

As the shortest trail section, the name Traders' Path honors the first Anglos into the region—traders. Deer hides were at a premium in England for the manufacture of shoes, book bindings and leather aprons in the 18 th century. Traders traded for hides with the Cherokees, often coming by boat along the Little Tennessee. The picturesque Nonah (spruce) Bridge returns the walkers to the west side of the river and the start of the Tartan Trail.

Tartan Trail picks up along the old railroad bed again, and terminates at the junction of the Little Tennessee and Cartoogachaye Creek, Franklin's fresh water source from the mountains. Along this section you will see a couple of Disc Golf baskets. Competitive events will bring many college students and other adults to the area.

Moving south from the River and Creek confluence walkers will find the only real hill on the trail, rising about 100 to 150' above the river level over a ridge and down into a flat area. The trail stops at a point 4.7 miles (from its beginning at Suli Marsh) on the bank of Cartoogachaye Creek. A short trail through a nice woodland will bring one to the Macon County Library parking lot two tenths of a mile before the current end. This woodland area has a 3 mile mountain bike trail, zig zagging its way around a small area and crossing the foot path. Cyclists may access this trail from the Library parking lot.

FROG planners hope to one day extend the Greenway around a U bend in the Cartoogachaye Creek and end up at the County Recreation Park on 441 south. This completion will allow foot and bike travel from the center of Franklin to the Rec Park for citizens wishing to use the Park's swimming pool, ball fields, tennis courts, and picnic facilities, and to view the recently completed Veterans' Memorial.

The Bartram Trail Society hopes to use the Greenway as a portion of its famous trail into northern Macon County once this last section is completed.

FROGquarters is the first stop on your initial visit to the Greenway. Here, you may get information that you will need to enjoy the facilities and points of interest along the Greenway. You will meet some of the FROG who run FROGquarters and help to maintain the Greenway.

Have a great cup of coffee or a cold drink and a snack, shop for gifts, check your email, check availability and make reservations for the picnic shelters. Learn about the other facilities of the Greenway, such as playgrounds, disc golf, and the new Dog Park.

FROGquarters is located on the right just before crossing the Little Tennessee River bridge on East Main Street.

HOURS: Monday-Friday, 8 AM-3 PM

Saturday, 9 AM-3 PM

Sunday, CLOSED


The *Dog Park is located beside the Big Bear Playground parking lot. The fencing IS installed. Benches for sitting and trash cans for clean up are in place. Rules for dog owners using the Park are displayed.

The Dog Park is enclosed in a five foot clain-link fence, and divided into a section for large dogs and one for the smaller dogs. The entry area provides an area where the owners can unlease and lease dogs safely. Owners are asked to be responsible in watching their dogs behavior in the Park to prevent any damage to the facility. The dogs are innocent!

Features, such as agility equipment will be added as funds are donated for enhancement of the Dog Park. DONATIONS will provide funds for improving the Bark Park. Your support is greatly appreciated!

Frog Quarters/573 E. Main St., Franklin, NC 28734


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