Lovers Leap

  • Highlights: Mountain and river views, Appalachian Trail
  • Distance: 3.9 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 591 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with some rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Easy/moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Pisgah National Forest AT parking area, South Serpentine Ave., Laughing Heart Hostel, Hot Springs NC
  • Website: AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Big Pillow Brewing—PFD Pilsner & Appalachian Fog

Trail Map:

The Hike:

On a recent week-long hiking trip to western NC, we used Hot Springs as our home base. We stayed at the Laughing Heart Lodge located about 150 yards from the Appalachian Trail. The hike to Lovers Leap on the AT is a local favorite so we added it to our list. 

AllTrails begins this hike near the Nantahala Outdoor Center on Silvermine Road. We decided to add some additional distance on the AT and began the hike on the AT by the Laughing Heart Hostel. Hot Springs NC is an Appalachian Trail Community—the AT passes right through town.

The AT leaves the hostel and descends down a series of stone steps before crossing Lance Avenue. The AT logo in the sidewalk blazes the trail through town. Follow the sidewalk over the railroad tracks and Lovers Leap is visible on the right as you cross the bridge.

At the end of the bridge, follow the white blazes on the right, down the steps to Silvermine Road. Turn left and pass the NOC river access area and a trailhead kiosk. The AT soon enters the forest with some nice views of the French Broad River on the right.

The AT begins a steady climb with switchbacks and steps. Pass several large rock formations and some partial views of the river. Reach the summit at 1.9 miles. The rocky cliffs provide some nice views of the French Broad River and Hot Springs. 

Just past the overlook, bear left on the orange-blazed Lovers Leap Trail as you begin to descend through a rhododendron forest. Follow the trail down to the Silvermine Trailhead. Stay left and follow the road past several houses.

Continue to follow the white AT blazes up the steps to the highway and cross the bridge back to Hot Springs. Just past the bridge on the right is Big Pillow Brewing—the beer pairing for this hike. Either stop in now for a cold beer or retrace your steps back through Hot Springs to the AT parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Big Pillow Brewing in Hot Springs is located just a few yards from the AT. This brewery has 10 taps of craft beer with indoor and outdoor seating. Grey Eagle Taqueria is located on site serving up great tacos and live music is available most weekends.

Pete really liked P.F.D. Pilsner (5.2% ABV), brewed with Weyermann Barke Pilsner malt from Germany and Hallertau Mittelfreuh hops, this is a crisp and refreshing pilsner. Wunderbar!! Kathy enjoyed a pint of Appalachian Fog (7.2% ABV), a New England-style hazy IPA brewed with Amarillo, Mosaic, Azacca and Eukanot hops.  

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.