- Hiking, Sightseeing Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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Winding its way from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail spans 2,190 miles through 14 states. About 320 of those miles are found in North Carolina (including 224 miles along the Tennessee border).
The North Carolina section offers many of the Appalachian Trail's highest peaks, several above 6,000 feet. Hiking enthusiasts can set out on a multiday or weeklong journey (keep in mind that you'll need permits to camp and hike in some areas, especially inside the Great Smoky Mountains).
If you're just looking for a little taste of Appalachia, you can venture about 35 miles northwest of Asheville to the town of Hot Springs, where the Appalachian Trail runs right through town on Bridge Street. From there, park at the Silvermine trailhead and follow the Appalachian Trail until you reach Lover's Leap Ridge. You can continue to hike along the Appalachian Trail or follow the orange blazes to complete the Lover's Leap Loop.
While the trail is moderately difficult, hikers say the views from its peaks and outcroppings are worth the climb.
To reach Hot Springs, take Interstate 26 North to Highway 25/Highway 70 North. There's ample parking available and travelers will find the Nantahala Outdoor Center on-site. For more information on the trail, visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.