Bucolic Beauty in Madison County

Some of the most beautiful rolling hills and deep mountain valleys in North Carolina's Blue Ridge mountains lie between the city of Asheville and the village of Hot Springs in Madison County. 

Barn Quilts of Madison County

Backroad ramblers will be delighted with the number of handpainted barn quilts on display throughout the countryside. The quilt is a symbol of comfort, family, heritage and community. Colorful barn quilts are going up on rural and small town structures throughout the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, bringing a form of public art to outlying areas. Most of the barn quilt projects are sponsored by county arts councils and created by families, organizations, schools and individuals. The paintings are eight-feet square and may represent a family pattern from a beloved quilt or something new entirely.

 

Maps showing where the barn quilts of Madison County are located are available at the Madison County Arts Council office in Marshall, the Mars Hill Visitor Center, and the I-26 North NC Visitor Center, southbound, just south of the Tennessee state line.

Cherokee History in Madison County

In Mars Hill, stroll the campus at Mars Hill College and visit an interpretive display of Cherokee artifacts, "Stories from These Stones: A Celebration of Cherokee History and Culture." The collection from the Southern Appalachian Archives is on exhibit in the Refro Library.

Appalachian Trail in Madison County

The town of Hot Springs is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, with the Appalachian Trail, whitewater rafting and canoeing on the French Broad River. A favorite attraction is North Carolina's only hot mineral baths, with private tubs along the banks of the French Broad River.

To reach Madison County:

From 1-40, coming from the East:
As you approach Asheville, take exit 53B onto 1-240 west. Go 5-6 miles on 1-240. Take exit 4A onto Highway 19/23 North toward Weaverville.

For Mars Hill: Continue on 19/23 and take exit for Mars Hill.
For Marshall and Hot Springs: Go 8-10 miles until you see a sign that says Marshall/Hot Springs 2nd right. Under the underpass exit right onto Highway 25/70 going north toward Marshall. Follow Highway 25/70 north into Marshall. Stay on 25/70 north if your destination is Hot Springs.

From 1-26, coming from the South:
1-26 will turn into 1-240 as you approach Asheville. Go 4-5 miles on 1-240 to the downtown area. Take exit 4A onto US Highway 19/23 North toward Weaverville. Go 8-10 miles until you see a sign that says Marshall/Hot Springs 2nd right. Under the underpass exit right onto Highway 25/70 going north toward Marshall. Follow Highway 25/70 north into Marshall.  For Mars Hill: Continue on 19/23 and take exit for Mars Hill.  For Marshall and Hot Springs: Go 8-10 miles until you see a sign that says Marshall/Hot Springs 2nd right. Under the underpass exit right onto Highway 25/70 going north toward Marshall. Follow Highway 25/70 north into Marshall. Stay on 25/70 north if your destination is Hot Springs.

From 1-40, coming from the West:
As you approach Newport, TN, take exit 432 onto highway 25/70 headed east. Follow 25/70 east through Newport about 25 miles to Hot Springs. Stay on 25/70 east if you want to pass through Hot Springs and go on to Marshall. Take Highway 213 off of the Marshall bypass if you want to go to Mars Hill.

From Johnson City, TN area:
Take I-26 east into North Carolina. The NC Welcome Center is located just past exit 2 southbound.  For Marshall and Hot Springs, take NC Hwy. 25/70 north into Marshall, or stay on 25/70 if your destination is Hot Springs. To reach the Madison County Arts Council office, follow Business US 25/70 towards downtown Marshall. At the bottom of the mountain, turn right (north) onto NC 251. Make an immediate left onto the river road (South Main Street). This is marked with a "Downtown" (left arrow) sign. This brings you into the south end of downtown Marshall. At the first traffic light, you will see the US Post Office on the northwest corner. The Arts Center is the next building on the left. Marshall has on-street parking.  For Mars Hill, take Exit 11.