Spring in the North Carolina Mountains

You know Spring has arrived when the first group of thru-hikers arrives heading north on the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Georgia. They’ve been on the trail for a few weeks and are ready to eat some good food, enjoy a cold beer and re-provision their packs.

And just as the hikers are anxious to get into town, the town folk are anxious for spring flowers to start blooming and to get into the gardens and do some spring clean up. By early March, the early flowers are blooming and later in the month the dog wood, redbuds and flowering fruit trees breakout with their vibrant color.

Leaves Grow Up the Mountain

As Spring arrives in Hot Springs, the new foliage emerges first in the lower elevations of the town where the temperature is a few degrees warmer than at the top of the mountains. As Spring continues to unfold, the new foliage begins to grow up the mountains over a period of 2-3 weeks until it finally reaches the top of Round Top Mountain, Hot Springs Mountain and Deer Park Mountain. This is the exact opposite of fall where the color starts at higher elevations and works its way down the mountains to the valley below.

A Celebration of the Appalachian Trail

For over 20 years, Hot Springs has celebrated Spring and the arrival of hikers on the Appalachian Trail with the Hot Springs Community Trailfest. Held in late April in the middle of town, the event is relatively small and family-oriented.

The event is managed by the Learning Center and is a fund-raiser for the pre-school program. There’s live music, hiker games, games for the kids, a plastic duck race in Spring Creek, food, raffles and displays by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and other environmentally oriented non-profits.

Spring Time Hiking is Fantastic

Temperatures in Spring are really conducive to enjoying a great day of hiking in the mountains. The air is clear, cool and very refreshing. This time of the year, it is important to layer clothing as it is chilly in the morning and warmer during the mid-day. Since the foliage doesn’t fully emerge at the top of the mountains until mid-May, the views are great and you can see the structure of the mountains and long distance vistas. Wild flowers, like trillium, start to bloom and flame azaleas show their bright orange and pink colors.

Relax With a Hot Mineral Bath

Hot Springs is one of the few locations on the East Coast blessed with natural hot springs. Located on the grounds of the Hot Springs Spa and Resort, the springs are clear, clean and geothermally heated to 102-103 degrees. Piped into modern day Jacuzzi tubs at the edge of the French Broad River and Spring Creek, soaking for an hour is warming and relaxing after a day of outdoor activities. The Spa also offers a number of spa treatments to top off a great spring day.