Lover's Leap Loop (2-18-16)
Lover's Leap is a locally famous landmark located along the Appalachian Trail just outside the quaint trail-town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. Though not exactly a towering land form (a 300-foot cliff in the Southern Appalachians isn't exactly a monster) the views offered from atop 'The Leap' are none-the-less quite memorable. Located at a point where the French Broad River makes its escape from from a particularly rugged series of ridges, Lover's Leap provides a stunning panorama of the wide river valley surrounding Hot Springs. I had been wanting to do this quick little loop for a while now but I rarely find myself headed in the direction of this rather lonely corner of the mountains. This day I'd remedy that.
The loop itself is, like I stated, quite brief...only around 2.5 miles in length. Starting from a rather misused trailhead just off US-25 outside of Hot Springs the route would take me up and over Lover's Leap Ridge, passing two beautiful overlooks and Lover's Leap itself along the way. Starting on the Lover's Leap Trail, about a third of the way along the hike I'd turn onto the Appalachian Trail itself. Headed southbound on the A.T. the path cuts is way along the ridge as it descends past the Leap and down to the banks of the French Broad itself. It's not a difficult walk, though there is just enough climbing required to consider it a healthy work out. The views are everything they are touted to be as well. In all, this is a wonderful spot for a quick stretch of the legs and, lets be honest, any time you can get in a few steps in on the Appalachian Trail makes for a good day indeed...come on along with me and see what I found...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.892451, -82.817757
Mileage Hiked: 2.5 miles Hike Duration: 1:10
Trailhead Temp: 55'F
Min. Elevation: 1,300' Max. Elevation: 1,800'
Total Vertical Gain: 500' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 200'
Trails Used (blaze color): Appalachian (white), Lover's Leap (orange)