Walking the Appalachian Trail through downtown Hot Springs
Mountain Magnolia Inn & Restaurant
Downtown Hot Springs
Hot Springs, North Carolina, is perhaps best known for its hot mineral springs. This small village in Madison County is located just 40 minutes north of Asheville at the junction of the Appalachian Trail (goes right through downtown) and the French Broad River. Recently voted the Best "Small Mountain Town" from Georgia to West Virginia and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, Hot Springs is a haven for those seeking outdoor adventure, healing and relaxation, or a quiet romantic getaway in a charming mountain village.
The romantic setting of Hot Springs is the backdrop to many destination weddings and honeymoons. Stay in a quaint bed and breakfast, mountain cabin or cottage, stroll through the shops, and dine in one of the local restaurants (no restaurant chains here).
This is definitely the place for outdoor enthusiasts, especially since hikers on the famous Appalachian Trail walk through the middle of town and whitewater enthusiasts love the rapids on the French Broad River (see their Hot Springs whitewater rafting guide). Go mountain biking, take a llama trek, fish a while, or horseback ride. There's plenty of day-hike options on the Appalachian Trail. You can hike the Lover's Leap Trail section from downtown and enjoy the panoramic views from a cliff overlooking the town and river. Or hike the grassy meadow atop Max Patch. And hike or drive to the Rich Mountain Lookout Tower.
Hot Springs Soak
Soak in the natural hot mineral waters, heated deep within the earth at the legendary Hot Springs Resort and Spa. These crystal clear carbonated waters are world famous for their legendary healing powers. They pipe the water into modern outdoor Jacuzzi type hot tubs that are drained and sanitized after each use. They also have a staff of massage therapists and a campground. Twelve outdoor mineral baths ranging from 100-104 degrees are available seven days a week year round (open until 10 PM on Monday-Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday). Rates run around $15/person for an hour soak. Get more details.
Dining and Shopping
With dining that ranges from the gourmet lovers' fare to country cookin' to steak and seafood with adult beverages from local breweries, Hot Springs foods entice any taste bud. Specialty shops in town carry a variety of goods, from local arts and crafts at ArtiSun Gallery to outdoor provisions and fishing gear at Bluff Mountain Outfitters.
A wide range of accommodations await the weary travelers in Hot Springs, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Within this picturesque mountain town is everything from rustic camping or a hostel to secluded log cabin vacation rentals to sumptuous bed and breakfast inns.
Directions from Asheville
From I-240 in the downtown area, take exit 4A onto Highway I-26W and U.S. 19/23 North toward Weaverville. Go 8.5 miles until you see a sign that says Hot Springs 2nd right (U.S. Highway 25/70). Follow Highway 25/70 north about 28 miles to Hot Springs, North Carolina.
Click here to go to the Hot Springs Web site.
NOC Whitewater Rafting near Hot Springs
Find family-friendly whitewater rafting on the scenic French Broad River, the third-oldest river in the world, flowing through Pisgah National Forest. Learn about the rich history of this river and see wildlife. With its Class II and III rapids, the guided half-day rafting trips are ideal for beginners or seasoned rafters. The full-day trip finishes with Frank Bell's Rapid near Hot Springs, a thrilling Class IV drop. All trips feature a delicious riverside gourmet lunch. Their outpost is located between Asheville and Hot Springs. Go to their Web site.
Hot Springs Festivals
April 17-19, 2015: Trailfest celebrates the fact that the famous Appalachian Trail goes right through the main street in town. Plus, it celebrate bicycles, skateboarding, hula-hooping, river rafting, roller skating, soccer, yoga, walking, swimming, making music on the porch, outdoor crafting, of course hiking, and more! This a FREE family event with lots of community involvement all weekend long. They kick-off on Friday with a delicious (cheap) Spaghetti Dinner, play all day Saturday and have pancakes, a float trip, and a big fat soccer game on Sunday.
May 1-3, 2015: French Broad River Festival in Hot Springs has grown steadily from a one night benefit party to an all weekend festival.
June 13, 2015: Bluff Mountain Festival, a free, family-friendly festival, features traditional bluegrass music, ballads, clogging and square dance, and a silent auction and raffle of regional art work, local crafts, vacation packages, and more. Begins at 10 AM with an array of delicious foods and ends with a square dance until dark on the grounds of the Hot Springs Spa.
July 9-12, 2015: Wild Goose Festival is a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts. Talk, listen, eat and camp together, captivated and challenged by the call of radical humanity, and who seek to celebrate diversity and promote the common good. Go to their Web site.
September 26, 2015: French Broad Brew Fest (formerly Fall Fest) features a few of the area’s best resources: craft brew, great music and beautiful scenery. 15+ breweries will be onsite and festival-goers will receive a commemorative souvenir glass for sampling from noon to 10 PM. Live music. Hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, soaking in hot tubs, and spa appointments are optional. Where the French Broad River intersects with the Appalachian Trail with private campsites, rv sites and cabins available on the festival grounds. In addition to the festivities, enjoy the 100 acre resort & spa’s modern Jacuzzi style hot tubs.
French Broad River in Hot Springs
Fall view of Hot Springs from the Appalachian Trail