Backpacker Magazine Appalachian Trail: Lovers Leap Loop 

Sample a classic stretch of the Appalachian Trail on this 11.5-mile route around a 1,000-foot gorge, with overlooks and eye-candy vistas of the Smokies.


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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 14 Feb 2007 1:17:44 PM
Activity: Hiking
State: North Carolina (NC)
Distance: 10.86 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 4838 ft
Total Loss: 3987 ft
Net Change: 852 ft
Difficulty: 6 / 10
Tags: Appalachian Trail, Asheville, AT hikes in North Carolina, Hot Springs, North Carolina
Rating:   3 rating(s) Rate it

TO TRAILHEAD: US 19/US 23 N to Weaverville then US 25/US 70 W to Hot Springs, NC. Turn L onto River Rd., then L again onto Silvermine Rd. Pass under bridge and park in lot @ Nantahala Outdoor Center French Broad Outpost.

Position Format: Datum:
Tracks

LLL02

Distance: 0.63 mi Points: 16
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Lovers Leap Loop (Track 2)

LLL01

Distance: 10.23 mi Points: 379
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Lovers Leap Loop (Track 1)

Points of Interest

LL001

Location: 35.893154, -82.822006
Head N; after .1 mi., join River Rd. and continue downriver on road

LL002

Location: 35.896065, -82.823097
R onto Reservoir Rd. (turns into dirt track). Follow to water tank; pick up Roundtop Ridge Trail (follow yellow blazes)

LL003

Location: 35.900066, -82.810722
Swing NE, ascending Roundtop Ridge (an original route for the Appalachian Trail, now rerouted)

LL004

Location: 35.922405, -82.802505
L @ T onto white-blazed AT for .4 mi. side hike to fire tower

LL005

Location: 35.927353, -82.805046
Rich Mountain (3,670 ft.). Climb fire tower for SW views of Smokies from Mount Cammerer to Mount Guyot. Return to WPT 4 and continue S on AT

LL006

Location: 35.910179, -82.790932
Cross US 25 @ Tanyard Gap on AT overpass; walk briefly on FR 113 and turn L from gravel road onto trail (white blazes)

LL007

Location: 35.905014, -82.790062
AT joins dirt road; in 480 ft., stay R on road, following white blazes; in .3 mi. turn R back onto trail leading through open meadows then into woods past a pond

LL008

Location: 35.888058, -82.795593
Reach Pump Gap and go straight @ 4-way, following vertiginous crest of Lovers Leap Ridge

LL009

Location: 35.890896, -82.819382
Short side trail to Lovers Leap, an outcrop of hard quartzite (compressed beach sand from 500 million years ago). Continue .1 mi. on AT above swirling French Broad River and hamlet of Hot Springs, NC

LL010

Location: 35.887478, -82.820328
Pass several rapids foaming over quartzite grooves on the .4 mi. hike N back to car

French Broad rapids

Location: 35.888859, -82.820694
Rapids foaming over quartzite grooves © Kathy Case

Lovers' Leap view

Location: 35.890751, -82.819313
A view of Hot Springs as seen from Lovers' Leap, high above the French Broad River. This vantage point is only 100 feet or so off the AT. ©Bob Harvey

Rich Mountain Fire Tower

Location: 35.927353, -82.804901
Climb fire tower for SW views of Smokies from Mount Cammerer to Mount Guyot. ©Bob Harvey


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