Connecting Town and Trail
The Appalachian Trail was built through the town of Hot Springs over seven decades ago, and today white blazes still mark the path through town and over the bridge across the French Broad River. The Trail is literally intertwined with the town – Hot Springs is the southernmost town through which the Trail overlaps its streets. As such, services for thru- and section-hikers are abundant, but with a variety of cabins, campgrounds, and small hotels, it is also an amazing place for vacationers just looking to spend a few hours on the Trail. Staff at the Hot Springs Welcome Center educate thousands of tourists each year about the day-hiking opportunities on the A.T. near town, including the renowned 360 degree views of Max Patch, the Rich Mountain Fire Tower, and the local favorite Lover’s Leap, just a two-mile round trip hike on the A.T. from downtown.
Besides providing a welcoming atmosphere for those who use the A.T., the town of Hot Springs supports the A.T. in many ways. The Hot Springs Library was designed with hikers in mind, with a room for packs, free wifi and charging, and information about hiker services in town. Students in Hot Springs maintain a section of the A.T. and have participated in water quality and ozone monitoring. Madison County, in which Hot Springs is located, has worked with ATC to ensure protection for the A.T. in its comprehensive planning. Additionally, each year Hot Springs brings residents and hikers together for its Trail Fest, an educational festival being organized by Elmer Hall at the Sunnybank Inn and a volunteer committee.
Plan Your Visit
Hot Springs’ claim to fame is in its name…Hot Springs has long been known for its natural, healing mineral springs. This quaint mountain town of about 650 people is one of only two places in the east where you can take a dip in real hot springs. But, with the town bordered by the A.T., the French Broad River, and Pisgah National Forest, there are plenty of adventures to be had before hitting the spa for some relaxation. Visitors to Hot Springs can go whitewater rafting on the French Broad, fly-fishing in Spring Creek, or swimming in the Laurel River. Hot Springs is also steeped in mountain culture, and visitors will find traditional crafts, music, and farms. You can find out more about things to see and do in Hot Springs here.
In order for visitors to really learn about the A.T. in Hot Springs, students and teachers have prepared the Hot Springs Quest, which will take you through town as you follow the A.T. and learn a bit about the history of Trail and town. You can also find out what events are happening in town while you’re there by visiting the Hot Springs Library or by checking out the Madison County events calendar or the Hot Springs events calendar.