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Hiking Around Hot Springs
Nestled among the loftiest peaks of the southern Appalachians, Hot Springs is a favorite with hikers on the Appalachian Trail (AT), which runs through town, providing hikers easy access to stores and supplies.
Lovers Leap Rock , one of the most popular AT side hikes in the area, offers a grand view of the French Broad River 500 feet below. Lovers Leap Rock gets its name from a Cherokee Indian legend that tells of a maiden who threw herself from the steep cliff after learning her lover had been killed by a jealous beau. While this hike is only 2.6 miles round-trip, it is a strenuous hike, gaining 1,000 feet in elevation.
From town, take Main Street north following the white blazes painted on the sidewalk. After the trail crosses the French Broad River Bridge, it curves under the bridge on Lovers Leap Road for .3 mile to Silver Mine Creek parking area. Continue through the U.S. Forest Service gate and follow the orange blazes which mark the trail to Lovers Leap Rock.
The whole loop is a treat to hike with different features offered at every turn, but this first section might be the most enjoyable for dogs. Lined in shady maples, oaks, river birches, sourwoods, and tulip poplars, the trail runs right along the French Broad River. The view of the river is so pretty you might forget to watch your footing, but the trail is rocky and uneven in places.
Rocky Bluff Recreation Area offers camping, picnicking, hiking, nature study, and fishing in Spring Creek, as well as flush toilets, lavatories, and water fountains. The site was formerly residential farmland and, at one time, a school. The recreation area is open from mid-April to mid-November, and can be reached by driving south from Hot Springs on NC 209 for 3.3 miles. The location of the town along the French Broad River also provides easy access for whitewater rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. Bluff Mountain Outfitters was established in the area to provide supplies and support for outdoor adventures.