An interesting part of the Appalachian Trail is that, on occasion, the trail deviates from its oh-hey-I’m-in-the-woods path and goes a bit more directly into civilization. By “a bit more”, I mean there is a section that is literally on the sidewalk. This section, which is rather short, goes strait through the town of Hot Springs, North Carolina.
Known as the first “trail town”, Hot Springs has a famous reputation among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. It has a particularly special place in thru-hiker’s hearts as, for many north-bounders, it’s the first time you come through real civilization since you’ve left Springer. To be fair, groveling at the preverbal feet of the town is uncommon since, after all, thru-hikers are hiking the trail (at least in some small part) to get away from rank-and-file society. However, it’s hard to say no to a shower or a pizza here and, in many cases, hikers don’t try to.
As if having the Appalachian Trail run through the middle of your town wasn’t cool enough (and Clint Eastwood barely has anything on the town already), it has an actual natural hot spring underneath it. The name suddenly makes sense. An enterprising group of folks dropped a spa right on top of it and many people travel to the town for therapeutic relief to all kinds of ailments.
That, and awesome outdoors stuff. Hot Springs was named “2012 Best Small Mountain Town”. I didn’t know they had an award for that, but its brilliant. How could you possibly resist the best small mountain town? I can’t even resist a moderate small mountain town that’s not really even in the mountains. Good thing I hid my wallet. To top it off, the French Broad River runs through the town too, giving visitors the opportunity to raft and tube.
Hot Springs makes a nice break in the trek from Georgia to Maine. It’s not the only unorthodox part of the trail, but it is one of the cool ones. Or hot ones. See what I did there?
Onward to extreme sidewalk trekking.