Summary: This 10 mile loop begins on the east side of Hot Springs, along side the French Broad River. The first 1/2 mile is a flat easy hike along the river. The next two miles are a rather steep rise of 1200 feet. The trail is rocky and narrow in places and caution should be the rule. This part of the trail reminds me of trail conditions similar in the Rockies. There are nice views of the French Broad and Hot Springs during the ascent. At the top of the elevation gain is a good area for camping. The rapids of the river can be heard for the first 3 miles. The next 4 miles through Tanyard Gap and the intersection of Roundtop Ridge are tree covered, with a number of Rododendrun Tunnels to go through. Just before Tanyard, are some very nice open areas for wildlife viewing. At Roundtop Ridge the trail descends downhill for almost 4 miles.The trail ends on the river front road. Stunning views of the surrounding mtn's can be seen by taking a side trip to the Rich Mtn Fire Tower.
Trailhead: Take Hwy25/70 west out of Asheville, NC. Drive about 30 miles and just before the bridge going into Hot Springs, go right and follow the road back under the bridge. There is a parking area and signs for the Appalachian Trail are clearly visible. (Lat:35.53 Lon:-82.49)
Trail Guides for Appalachian Trail - North of Hot Springs, NC:
North Carolina Hiking Trails
by Allen de Hart (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Hiking Trails in the Hot Springs Area
by Appalachian Ranger District (Appalachian Ranger District)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Appalachian/French Broad Ranger District, 828-622-3202
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Tom Duchac, who has posted 23 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by John on 3/29/2015
I just this loop on a brisk Sunday morning. As the other reviews posted it starts with a descent incline then your taking it easy until after mill ridge. You'll then have a moderate incline four the most part until you reach round top, but it's cake after that unless you have knee problems, mostly downhill. Got back to the car at the nantahala parking lot in 3 hrs 45 mins. Beautiful hike but not very scenic. If you do this loop I suggest making the time to climb to the for tower just past round top for an amazing view. Of course a little back track but you'll be back to your car in no time.
Reviewed by ATShiba on 4/10/2011
My wife, a friend, and myself carrying our 10 month old daughter in a pack (40lbs total) hit this. All of us are in good shape. As stated-trail starts flat then ascends fairly sharply for a while and the AT and lovers leap trail are one. The section is tougher but since you are full of energy since your hike just started it's very manageable. After you hit the first 1.5-2 miles it flattens out for a little while...however the trail is a constant ascent and descent. Your will cross the pump gap loop (do this and return for a 4 hour hike) Between here and crossing 25/70 the trail is 'easy'. After 25/70 is a sharp hard climb with zapped energy. The 5 hour hike time isn't accurate (we passed AT hikers all day)..7 1/2 for us with 1 hr in bre
Reviewed by j on 4/25/2010
Reviewed by Missi on 6/13/2005
Great hike. Just some clarifications...while most of the uphill is in that first few miles, there's a fairly tough climb after the you cross the highway, probably about 600 ft. Also, the Roundtop Ridge trail is pretty overgrown in places, so be prepared for thorns and low trail visibility.
Reviewed by M.o. on 5/9/2005
Yes, this is a good hike. Starts off kinda tough (all uphill) but last half is easy going. wasn't too crowded either. when you get to the open meadows at Tanyard there is a map where you can check your bearings.
Reviewed by Ashley on 3/20/2005
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