Rufus Morgan Trail, Franklin, North Carolina

July 12, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Rufus Morgan Trail is located in western Franklin, North Carolina.  We drove about an hour to get to the trail head – many years ago we did this trail with our first dog, Dolly, in the fall of 2010, so it’s been almost a decade since we have hiked this trail.  Franklin is experiencing a good amount of rain this year and we did encounter some muddy spots along the trail. These photographs were taken in late June 2020.

The entire loop trail is approximately 1 mile in length.  We hiked to the waterfall and then turned around and went back the same direction we came in.  The entire trail was ours for the duration we were there, so plan to potentially be the solo hiker(s).

Dogs are allowed on this trail, we kept ours on leashes.  There were several places they picked up scents and would have been gone otherwise (and not sure we would have found them with all the foliage).

The first photograph shows the gravel road (well maintained) with the tree canopy over the road.

FS 388 - Gravel roadGravel road to Rufus Morgan Trail

As we start off on the trail, I snapped a quick photograph of Abby looking down the trail – for now, I am handling Abby (she is on a leash – removed in photoshop from the photograph) and Jim has the twins.

It’s not long before we see the truck a good ways down from our location – this trail has a total altitude gain of 288 feet.

Jim stopped for a photograph with the dogs near the beginning of the trail – sitting on a fallen log. 

There is a lot of small life in this area of the Nantahala National Forest.  A lot of trees and forest - it's quiet except for the water flowing and noise that we are making along the trail.  I'm sure there are lot of animals living here - we didn't see any wildlife during our hike.

Eventually we begin to see the water flowing down the rocks.  The water is fast moving with a few areas for the dogs to drink if they need some hydration.  In one location it does require walking over rocks to get through the water.  The water is flowing from the south towards the north - no sunlight on the flowing water.

At the waterfall itself, there is several rocks to relax on if you’re inclined to do so.  Many branches are at the bottom of the waterfall.  This waterfall faces north, but by the time we arrived (9:23am), portions of the waterfall were in sunlight.

Abby standing on the rock in front of the main waterfall.


Driving Directions


Take US 64 West from Franklin for 3.7 miles. Turn right on Old Murphy Rd, go 0.1 mi, and then turn left on Wayah Rd (SR 1310). Go 6.3 miles and turn left on FS 388, which is gravel. Go 2 miles to the parking area on the right, which is signed. (FS 388 may be gated in winter, and - although a bit long - makes a nice added hike to get to the trailhead).

Our experience in driving to this was pretty easy except it is important to pay attention to your mileage because this is the best indication of where to turn left on FS 388.

Rufus Morgan - who was he?

Using Google to search and find out, Rufus Morgan was born in Franklin, North Carolina in 1885 (he died in 1983).  He was a naturalist, author and explorer. In addition, he was one of the early pioneers for the founding and development of the Appalachian Trail which is nearby in North Carolina. If you're interested in more information, check the entry on for Rufus which contains a short biography. (




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