Lover’s Leap Loop Trail
Lover’s Leap Loop Trail Details
Length: 1.6 Miles
Region: Hot Springs
Duration of hike: 90-120 minutes
Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
Blazes: Orange rectangles (Lover’s Leap Trail); White rectangles (Appalachian Trail)
Facilities & Parking: Parking lot
Features: Pet Friendly, Views
A taste of the Appalachian Trail in Hot Springs
Taking its name from a local legend, the Lover’s Leap Trail in Hot Springs offers a bird’s eye view of the French Broad River and the mountains beyond it. Following the Appalachian Trail for a stretch, you’ll hike to a series of rock outcroppings where you can enjoy the view, a picnic and a breather from the somewhat strenuous hike.
What To Expect
This trail makes a loop, so you can choose where to start. When you come out from under the US 25 bridge, you’ll see the Nantahala Outdoor Center parking lot on the right. Your first option is to park here and start out on the Appalachian Trail, which runs alongside the French Broad River until it begins to climb in a series of switchbacks until you reach the cliffs over the river. From here, the Appalachian Trail continues on to the north but you should go to the left, following the orange blazes of the Lover’s Leap Trail through the woods down to the Silvermine Trail parking lot (just a few hundred yards fro the Nantahala Outdoor Center). You’ll also intersect the Pump Gap Trail on the way down: stay to the left to stay on the Lover’s Leap Trail.
You can also choose to start the trail at the Silvermine Trailhead. Instead of parking on the right side of the road, you’ll follow the signs for the trailhead on the left, passing a few houses and parking on the left (trail starts on the right side of the road). The Silvermine Trail here leads into the woods, becoming quite steep quickly until you emerge from the woods onto the rocky overlooks over the river. From here, follow the signs for the Lover’s Leap Trail. The descent down the Appalachian Trail is quite steep if you choose to go this route. You’ll reach the flat part of the trail running alongside the river after about .25 mile from here. Take it back to the Nantahala Outdoor Center and then the parking lot.
From downtown Asheville, take US 19 N/U.S. 23 N/U.S. 70 W/I- 26 toward Weaverville/Woodfin. Continue onto I-26 W/US-19 N/US-23 N/US-70 W for 8 miles. Take exit 19 A to merge onto US-25 N/US-70 W toward Marshall. Stay on this road for 17 miles into Hot Springs. Just before crossing the bridge over the French Broad River, turn right on River Road, bearing to the left onto Silvermine Road and going under the bridge. You’ll see signs or the Silvermine Trailhead on the left. Turn here and the trailhead parking lot will be on the left just ahead.
N35 53.356, W82 48.711
Lover's Leap summer photo by Joanne O'Sullivan.