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The Best Hot Springs, NC Hikes

Updated: Jun 6

the best hot springs nc hikes, couple hiking in the fall

Explore the Trails: Best Hiking Spots Near Hot Springs, NC

Nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Hot Springs, North Carolina, is a hidden gem for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its breathtaking scenery, lush forests, and the tranquil French Broad River running through it, this charming town offers some of the most picturesque and rewarding hikes in the region.

Whether you're seeking serene walks, challenging climbs, or panoramic mountain views, Hot Springs' trails deliver. Let’s venture into the wild to discover the best hikes near Hot Springs, NC, each promising an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

1. Lover’s Leap Loop

Length: Approximately 1.6 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Overlooking the French Broad River, Lover’s Leap Loop is a must-hike for anyone visiting Hot Springs. The trailhead, easily accessible from the Appalachian Trail, takes you on a moderately challenging journey with some steep sections. What makes this hike truly remarkable are the breathtaking views of the river and the town below, especially enchanting at sunset. The loop gets its name from the local legend of star-crossed lovers, adding a touch of romance to the adventure.

2. Max Patch

Length: Various trails, 1.4 to 2.4 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

A short drive from Hot Springs, Max Patch is a bald mountain that offers 360-degree views of the Appalachian Mountains, including the Smokies and Mount Mitchell. The hike to the top is relatively easy, making it perfect for families and those looking for a leisurely day out. The summit is a popular spot for picnics, kite flying, and simply soaking in the panoramic views. For a longer adventure, take the loop around the bald to explore different perspectives of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

3. Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Tanyard Gap

Length: Approximately 6.7 miles one way

Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

For those looking to experience a portion of the legendary Appalachian Trail, the segment from Hot Springs to Tanyard Gap offers a fulfilling trek. This trail section showcases diverse landscapes, from riverfront paths to forested climbs and open ridgelines. Hikers can immerse themselves in the tranquility of the woods and enjoy occasional views that peek through the canopy. It’s a great way to experience the Appalachian Trail's enduring spirit without committing to a multi-day hike.

4. Rich Mountain Fire Tower

Length: About 2.6 miles round trip from the Hot Springs area

Difficulty: Moderate

The hike to Rich Mountain Fire Tower is a journey back in time. This historic fire tower once used to spot wildfires, now serves as a unique vantage point for hikers. The trail is moderately challenging, with a steady climb that rewards you with spectacular views from the tower. Overlooking Hot Springs and the surrounding mountains, it’s an ideal spot for photographers and anyone who appreciates a good view.

5. Pump Gap Loop

Length: Approximately 5.1 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Pump Gap Loop is perfect for those seeking a moderately challenging hike that encapsulates the beauty of the North Carolina wilderness. This loop takes you through lush forests, across streams, and along ridgelines with views of the French Broad River and the distant mountains. It's a diverse trail that offers a bit of everything, from serene woodland walks to moments of exhilarating elevation.

Your Adventure Awaits

Hot Springs, NC, is a haven for hikers of all levels. Whether you're looking for a short scenic stroll or a challenging trek through the Appalachians, this area offers a diverse range of trails that promise beauty, adventure, and a deep connection with nature. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and set off on a journey to explore the breathtaking trails near Hot Springs. The mountains are calling!

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