Spring has sprung here in central NC. The jonquils are coming up, the mean temperature is above 50 degrees for the week, and there is just the tiniest touch of humidity in the air. Basically, it’s beautiful. And what does one do when it’s beautiful? Spend as much time as humanly possible outside!
And that is exactly what I accomplished this past weekend with the help of the boy and a couple of friends. We met in Asheville on Friday, and had dinner at Jack of the Wood while a couple of great bluegrass bands played. After a round over at the Bier Garden, it was time to turn in and rest up for the day ahead.
Saturday morning we drove out to Hot Springs, NC which is 45 miles northwest of Asheville. Hot Springs is a really adorable little down that sits right on top of the Appalachian Trail and, as the name suggests, natural mineral springs. We camped out at a site maintained by the Hot Springs Spa, which turned out to be a lot more secluded than we originally thought. We were right by the French Broad river away from the RV hookups and other campers.
We took some time to set up camp before setting out on our first hike:
Our hike for Saturday was Max Patch, a large bald hill off the Appalachian Trail about 18 miles from Hot Springs. The Patch has spectacular views and we were told it would be the perfect spot for a picnic, which it was!
We were not informed, however, that you will be completely convinced you are lost on your way to Max Patch and turn around approximately 2-3 times while on your way to the trail. So there went one hour of potential hiking time. Once we made it there, Max Patch and the surrounding trails were a great first day’s hike.
Saturday night was spent around the roar of our excellent campfire which we used to grill kielbasa, bake potatoes and of course roast marshmallows.
Matt and I slept late Sunday, while our campmates had gotten up earlier and greeted us with granola and coffee from the only coffee shop in Hot Springs. After packing up the campsite, we followed a hunch to the other side of the river, where we hiked up to the Lover’s Leap lookout, which offered amazing views of the town.
From there, we hiked a while longer on the section of the App Trail heading out of town, away from Max Patch, and doubled back when it was time to go for some ice cream.
If you ever find yourself in Hot Springs, you will undoubtedly go, as we did, several times to the ArtiSun Gallery & Marketplace. They supplied us with our morning coffee, afternoon ice cream (made in Asheville!) and overall good advice about how to get where we needed to go. We LOVED them.