Head out of town and hit the Appalachian Trail. Before departing in the morning, pick up coffee and a spicy country-ham sandwich ($5.50) at Clingman Café, then take Interstate 40 west before going north on Route 209, which winds past the tiny Smoky Mountain burgs of Trust and Luck. After Trust, take a left on Route 1175 and make your way, via State Roads 1181 and 1182, to Max Patch Mountain, a bald hilltop that’s home to two easy loop trails, one 1.4 miles long, and the other 2.4 miles. On your hike, you’ll see amazing 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, which is why seasoned hikers consider it a highlight of the region. Once you’re done, hit the town of Hot Springs and grab a burger ($7.99) for lunch at the Iron Horse Station before soaking in a 100-degree tub of mineral water (from $13; call ahead to reserve a spot) at the Hot Springs Resort & Spa until you feel restored. Wind down your relaxing mountain adventure with an hourlong scenic drive back to the city on Route 251 along the French Broad River. In the evening, settle into the Thirsty Monk, which serves dozens of Belgian and American craft beers on tap and by the bottle, and nosh on an eclectic sampling of small plates, including spicy pickled-vegetable bruschetta ($4) and Thai-style pulled pork tacos ($7).
The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan
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5. Oddball Day
Published on Feb 10, 2012 as a web exclusive.