The popular Lover’s Leap hiking trail in Hot Springs North Carolina. A short, popular, and somewhat strenuous hike up Lover’s Leap Ridge. Great views!
On the outskirts of the charming North Carolina town of Hot Springs, is the short hiking trail and overlook known as Lover’s Leap. Offering beautiful views of the French Broad River, the town of Hot Springs, and beyond; this short loop hike of only 1.6 miles will definitely give you a workout as you climb up Lover’s Leap Ridge gaining about 500 feet in elevation. The views are worth it however and this strenuous hike is one of the areas “must do” hikes.
The Pisgah National Forest is 800 square miles of beautiful mountain terrain and is located completely in the state of North Carolina. It is home to numerous waterfalls, old growth forests, and mountain ranges like the Blue Ridge and Great Balsam mountains. Its vastness supports a variety of recreational and commercial activities including hiking, backpacking, and hunting. It is also the host to a number of signature North Carolina attractions.
The trailhead to Lover’s Leap is found at the Silvermine Trailhead in Hot Springs North Carolina. It is located at the end of Silver Mine Road which is just off Highway 25. If you are heading into the town of Hot Springs from the East, it would be just before you cross the French Broad River and enter into town. If you are approaching from the West, it would be just after you leave town and cross the river. The road is narrow and there are a lot of houses near the road. It almost feels like you are on someone’s driveway but the road does continue all the way back to a nice sized parking area. The trailhead is about 50 minutes from Asheville North Carolina. There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead.
Since this is a loop, you could hike in either directions but most folks start at the Silvermine Trailhead which is actually back down the road about 100 yards right where it turned away from the river. This is the most common direction people hike and is generally considered the easiest.
Walk back down Silver Mine road and look for the obvious trail that parallels the river next to the informative signboard. After checking out the signboard for any updates, take the wide and level trail into the woods as it walks along the beautiful French Broad River. During this portion of the hike you are on the Appalachian Trail and following the white blazes. The hike is very pleasant here and you get some great views of the river including a nice rapid. Shortly after the rapid, the trail veers left and starts a very intentional climb up the ridge.
The trail will switchback several times and generally ascend the whole way up the ridge. You will gain altitude fast but the views will be limited due to the thick forest cover. There are, however, three outcroppings that provide excellent views.
You will reach the first one after about 3/4’s of a mile and it will be very obvious. It is a great spot to catch your breath and enjoy the view after the climb up the ridge. Continuing a short distance up the trail you will reach the second outcropping which has a short but steep trail leading down to it. It is also much more exposed than the other views so exercise extreme caution. This outcropping is the location from which the ridge is named. There are many variances of the story but they all have one thing in common – A heartbroken maiden jumped from the rocks at this spot.
Whatever the story, it is a very beautiful view to enjoy.
Continuing even further up the trail you will encounter the third and highest outcropping which is up some stairs off one of the switchbacks. While this is the highest view, it isn’t the best view but you’ve come this far so it is definitely worth checking out and enjoying the last view of the river before continuing on the hike.
Shortly after this 3rd viewing spot, the trail will split with the Appalachian Trail continuing to the right and the return part of the loop, blazed in orange, starting the descent down the ridge to the left. The orange blazed trail will continue down the mountain for a brief period before encountering the Pump Gap Trail which will actually continue straight. To return to the parking area, you will switchback and continue following the orange blazes a short distance back to the parking area completing your loop hike of Lover’s Leap.