Madison County is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville. With the scenic French Broad River running through this rural county, there are countless ways to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountains and its charming small towns (see guides for Hot Springs, Mars Hill and Marshall). Whether your interest is in the outdoors, visual or performing arts, traditional music, history, architecture, or agri-tourism, they have fun things to do for all.
Madison County includes 55,000 acres of Pisgah National Forest, providing a majestic backdrop to the world’s third oldest river. Enjoy outdoor sports for all enthusiasts, including whitewater rafting, hiking along the Appalachian Trail, fishing in a river or mountain stream, bicycling along their country roads, or going horseback riding. Then relax in the natural hot springs, one of only two east of the Mississippi.
For those looking for unique experiences, play a round of disc golf at Mars Hill College. Or mine for garnets. For hunting enthusiasts, a former tobacco and cattle farm has been converted into a sporting clays and game preserve for quail hunting. Madison County is a hotbed for traditional mountain music, and some of the folks who come to play are Grammy award-winners.
Drive the scenic roads of Madison County, from Mars Hill to Marshall to Hot Springs, stopping along the way for so much to do:
- Take short hike and picnic at Max Patch, a bald mountain with spectacular mountain views.
- Go whitewater rafting on the French Broad River.
- See a play at the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre in Mars Hill.
- Take a driving tour on one of the NC Scenic Byways, including I-26 to the Tennessee state line.
- Browse the galleries and shops in downtown Marshall, along with the studios on Blannahassett Island.
- Soak in the hot springs.
- Hike the Appalachian Trail from downtown Hot Springs to Lovers Leap.
- Hike and climb the Rich Mountain Fire Tower.
- Ski at Wolf Ridge.
- Eat at one of many local restaurants.
- Take a Barn Quilt driving tour and find pattern squares painted on wood, and attached to barns, homes, and businesses.
- Stay the night in a bed and breakfast inn, cabin rental, hostel or campground.