The very first town that the A.T. passes through if your are headed north from Springer Mountain is Hot Springs, North Carolina. This very inviting trail town is 273 miles from the southern terminus so it is a welcomed sight for most thru-hikers. After clearing Bluff Mountain, the AT descends about 3000 feet in ten miles in a rather drastic drop into Hot Springs. The town itself is nestled in a valley supported by the French Broad River – a popular white water rafting port. Hot Springs is also home of Trailfest held on April 11-13 this year (Friday night spaghetti dinner for $5 at the Community Center). I won’t make the festival but I hope to enjoy a nice hot meal when I arrive. Elmers Sunnybank Inn has a special rate for thru-hikers of $20 for a private room including linens, towel, and shower. After 273 miles, it might be time for a zero day – or at least a comfortable bed!!
I checked a couple of website regarding this trail town (http://hotspringsnc.org/ and http://www.townofhotsprings.org/visitors.htm) and they sure make the town sound inviting. Hot Springs was recently voted the Best Small Mountain Town from Georgia to West Virginia by readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. Knoxnews.com described the small town in these terms, “This hospitable enclave of 650 people, with its eclectic blend of stores, shops and town folk with big personalities, can be habit-forming.”
And does Hot Springs have hot springs? You betcha! One website entices me with, “Soak in the hot mineral springs at the end of the day’s activities. Heated deep within the earth, the 103-degree crystal-clear carbonated waters are said to have curative qualities that will relax and rejuvenate you.” I am not sure which will cry louder – my stomach for a hot meal, my back for a comfy bed, or my feet for the waters of rejuvenation, but all three might have to be satisfied in Hot Springs, North Carolina.
Trailfest Photo: http://www.visitmadisoncounty.com/activities/hike-the-appalachian-trail-in-madison-county/trailfest-in-hot-springs/
Street Ph0to: http://hotspringsnc.org/