~ 1.8 mile

~ 472 ft

Hot Springs, NC

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Lover’s Leap Loop trail is a moderately difficult loop that connects with a small portion of the Appalachian Trail. The summit has spectacular views of Hot Springs, NC and the Nolichucky River. Before or after your trek, Hot Springs is a charming little town to stop and get a bite to eat or support local businesses. There are also many other water activities, camping, cabin rentals, and hiking trails nearby. We recently went to Max Patch which is about 45 minutes from here.

The trail begins right along the Nolichucky River. The parking area is a decent size. We went on a Friday and only saw one other car the whole time. If you are standing in the parking lot and looking at the water, the trail head is slightly down the road to your left.

It rained a lot the week before we went so the water was high at the beginning of the trail. There was only one spot where we actually had to step in a little water to cross. The rest of the trail was completely clear. Due to the rising water, there was quite a bit of trash that washed in. We collected 9 lbs of trash along the trail that day.

You will come to a fork where you can either keep going straight (this leads to a dead end) or go left and up to follow the Appalachian Trail. You want to stay on the Appalachian Trail here so you will continue to follow the white blazes.

This will begin your elevation gain to the summit and is the section that puts this trail into the “moderate” category. It isn’t too bad, but definitely gets the blood flow pumping. We took quite a few snack breaks along the way here. This is also the part where our youngest was struggling with his backpack. More about that here.

You will come to a few spots with great views before you reach the top. There are multiple switch backs to help with the ascent.

The Lover’s Leap Summit is spectacular. There are some rocks behind it that we climbed up on to have lunch and leave room for the views in case any other hikers came by. We only saw a few other people the whole time we were on this trail. One or two looked like they might be A.T. through-hikers which we always love to see!

Shortly after you leave the summit, you will come to another fork in the trail. We chose to get off the A.T. at this point and continue on the Lover’s Leap Loop. The blazes will change to orange. If you want to add more mileage to your hike and travel along a creek, I have read that people will continue to follow the A.T. here which will loop back to the Lover’s leap trail again in a couple miles. We did not do that route so you will want to have the map for more specifics. We love map feature on the “All Trails” app.

From here its a nice and easy downhill hike for the rest of the loop. You will come to another fork and again, just keep following the signage for the Lover’s Leap Loop.

You will know you went the right way because you will continue following orange blazes.

There is also a pretty creek toward the end of the loop that would be great for splashing in during the summer. You arrive at a different parking lot toward the end than the one you parked your car in. Walk through that parking lot, then continue a short distance down a residential street. This will take you right back to where you left your car.

Overall, this trail was loved by the whole family. If you are staying in or near Hot Springs for a vacation, it is definitely one to check out. We drove a little over an hour to get to it and I still think it was worth the drive. A combination of water + views is always a good choice!

More info about Lover’s Leap Trail here =>>

Nature finds to look for:

DISCLAIMER: We use the “Picture This” app to help identify plants we find along the trail combined with our own nature books and study. We are by no means experts and might get it wrong sometimes! Please do not take any of our suggestions as text book or ingest anything based on what we share. Our nature finds are also based on the season in which we did our hike. If you hike the same trail in a different season, you might find totally different plants. If you notice any mistakes in our identification, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can update it ASAP! Thank you and happy exploring!