Hot Spring was recently voted the Best Small Mountain Town by readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine in large part because of the abundance of outdoor activities available in the area. So whether you are looking for a day or two retreat or a longer vacation, Hot Springs is a great place for a North Carolina mountain getaway. Plus, we are centrally located in the mountains of Western North Carolina so you can easily take advantage of regional attractions with just a short drive.
Natural Amusement Parks
A favorite Hot Springs summer activity is a trip on the Laurel River, a natural water amusement park just five miles from town. The Laurel’s headwaters are 20 miles back in the mountains so it’s not surprising that it runs very clear and clean and is home to wild mountain trout. As it approaches the French Broad River, it descends quickens and the waters tumble over huge boulders carved in various shapes from thousands of years of water flowing over them. There are rapids, small waterfalls, deep still pools, and places you can slide on slippery rocks covered with algae. Families often spend the majority of a day sunning, swimming and picnicking on a sandy beach on the Laurel.
Take a Hike
Not only does the Appalachian Trail run right through town, there are a number of hikes you can do right from downtown. Lover’s Leap Trail is the most popular with the walk along the French Broad River and then the turn up the mountains edge with switchbacks taking you to great views of the river and valley below.
The French Broad River, one of the oldest rivers in North America and one of the few that runs east to west, flows right through the middle of Hot Springs. We are the center of whitewater rafting in the mountains of North Carolina. Rafting companies will equip, train, shuttle and guide you down the river on a raft, a sit-on-top kayak or a tube on a quiet section of the river. Take a ½ day trip or stay out all day. It’s great fun and, while exciting, it is very safe.
Jackie Ball at Sandy Bottom Trail Rides has over 20 horses and offers rides for all skill levels and ages. Take a 1-hour, 2-hour or 3-hour trip. Visit his garnet gem mine and keep the semi-precious stones you find.
Soar through s wooded mountain forest on an exciting but safe zip-line canopy course hundreds of feet above ground. No experience necessary and the Canopy Rangers provide all the necessary instruction and assistance and use state-of-the-art equipment, including helmets, full body harnesses, trolley, gloves, and tether safety lines.
There are some great mountain biking opportunities in the area from riding along River Road to Murray Branch Park or Paint Rock (where, if you look hard enough, you will find 5000-year-old petroglyphs) or the loop up on Mills Ridge. So put the bikes on the back of your car and enjoy the fun.
Go Fishing Right in Town
Spring Creek runs right through Hot Springs and is stocked with mountain trout. Pick up a license at C&H Fishing Supplies and head off to fish. Catch it, cook it, eat it….all in the same day. What could be better?
Check out an Old-Time Hardware Store
It’s an incredible experience. Keith Gentry runs the family hardware store which was first opened by his Dad, James, in 1945. He has everything you can think of, knows where it is without relying on a computer, and will spend 30 minutes to sell you 5-cent screw. He’s got moon pies, hard candy, and even a treat for your dog. THIS IS A MUST.
Visit a Craft Gallery
We have several shops in town which feature area crafts and locally made items from tie dyed t-shirts to postcards.
Picnic on a Mountain Top
Pack a picnic lunch and head off to Max Patch, the 5000-foot bald mountain with 360-degree views as far as the eye can see. It’s an easy walk up and always 10-degrees cooler with a nice breeze.
Relax With A Day of Pampering
Take some time off and take the family to the hot mineral baths for a restful, rejuvenating soak in the 103-degree water with views of the French Broad River. If you want to really splurge you and the kids might enjoy a foot treatment or half-hour or hour-long massage. Afterwards, a trip to the ice cream shop downtown for a scoop of your favorite flavor might be in order.