Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 14
THe GOOD WALK
Hot Springs to Lover's Leap
The view from Lover's Leap is onto the
French Broad River.
The little North Carolina town is one of the Appalachian Trail's most-fun walkthrough towns. And just beyond: A great viewpoint.
Text and photos by Leonard Adkins
Hot Springs, North Carolina, is one of the few towns the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) passes directly through. My first
five times here I was looking at it with the eyes of a
thru-hiker. Where could I purchase socks to replace the
ones that were getting threadbare? Had the post office
received my resupply box? Was there a laundry to get
some of the trail dirt off my clothes?
I arrive on my latest visit via automobile, so I'm really in more of traditional visitor mode this time, wondering just what there is to see. A historical walking tour
map of downtown, found in the welcome center, sets
me off in search to learn more.
I find that the hiker hostel I stayed in, Sunnybank
Inn, is one of the town's oldest structures, dating from
1840. The hardware store where I had purchased some
batteries has been owned by the same family since it
was constructed in 1942. Another inn, Mountain Magnolia, was built in 1868 by Colonel J.H. Rumbough,
proprietor of the Warm Springs Hotel-one of the first
places to offer accommodations for those wishing to
"take the waters."
On a side street, I happen upon ArtiSUN Gallery and
Marketplace. In addition to selling the creations of regional artists and crafts persons, owner Sunny Riggs offers an eclectic breakfast and lunch menu, along with
teas and coffees. Who would have ever thought you
could enjoy a cup of Jahmu chai with ginger and fresh
grated turmeric in this little, out-of-the-way town in
western North Carolina?
Of course, I can't ignore the lure of the A.T. and one
of its more renowned overlooks, Lover's Leap. The rocky
outcrop was named by the Cherokee when Mist-of-theMountain jumped from the precipice after her sweetheart, Magwa, had been murdered by Lone Wolf, an
Following the A.T.'s white blazes through town, I
cross the French Broad River and turn upstream. The
pathway's fairly level terrain provides an opportunity to
gaze across gurgling Surprise Falls, enjoy abundant wildflowers, and see a great blue heron majestically swoop