Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Tanyard Gap is a 5.7 mile point-to-point trail located near Hot Springs, NC. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking.
Nice trail. Went during the summer so the leaves blocked a lot of the views. Still, Awesome hike on the A.T.
I did this section of the AT as part of a longer four day hike to Allen Gap and back. I chose to park at the USFS AT parking lot on Serpentine Road in Hot Springs, and then walked through town, over the river, then along the French Broad River on flat terrain. This is a good way to warm up before you start to climb. Once headed up, it's a steady climb on a single track. Proper footing is important because there are some steep drop-offs and the trail isn't very wide and is rocky in parts. A few short sections were chiseled out of solid rock. Once at the top, the views are great. The trails rises and falls and rises and falls from here. On the return trip, you have two other trails that you can take back down to Hot Springs. I took the AT back and the final decent was a blessing.
I recently completed a quick shake down hike in early August 2010 to test out a few things. In the last year I dropped 30 pounds from my body and at least 10 pounds from pack. Plus I got new boots I had to break in. So I thought I'd see how I handle some major uphills on a 5.9 trek from Hot Springs, NC to Tanyard Gap.
I finished up in 2.5 hours and that included a 10 minute stop at Mill Pond (I think it's called) to enjoy the site and catch a breather. The good news is that my new boots felt pretty good but still require more breaking in. The great news is that I practically flew uphill including through the 9 switchbacks at the beginning which are all up a steep incline.
I carried around 29 pounds including full shelter, sleep gear, clothes, first aid, cooking gear, 1 day of food, 3 liters of water, etc. 2 liters of my water were in a bladder system with a hose that hung over my shoulder. That was super convenient as I didn't have to stop frequently to quench my thirst. Once I figured out how to get it to work, it worked flawlessly. I plan on carrying that on future hikes. My bag wasn't designed to carry it but I made it work.
So, I've learned that I can handle a faster pace and don't have to stop at the top (or near the top) of all of the uphills I face (which was my normal method).
I recommend this hike for anyone who needs to break in some boots or test out a new pack.
I also recommend the $5 shuttle from Bluff Mountain Outfitters. I left my car in Hot Springs and called them for a ride when I was at Tanyard Gap. I didn't have to wait 5 minutes for them to show up. Of course, you may want to arrange the ride before hand. It's not required but it's very helpful and considerate.