Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Rich Mountain Lookout

HARD 13 reviews

Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Rich Mountain Lookout is a 15 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Hot Springs, North Carolina that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

15.0 miles
3576 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly





nature trips

trail running





wild flowers

This trail 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 mountains can be seen by taking a side trip to the Rich Mountain Fire Tower.

5 months ago

Hell of a workout. I was a little disappointed when a car drove up to the fire tower at the top of the mountain after I worked so hard to get there.

5 months ago

Fun hike if this is the one that starts at the silver mine. AT trail well marked with white stripes. Great view of the river and surrounding landscape as you climb up

11 months ago

Took the Roundtop Ridge trail from Reservoir Rd to just a short section on the AT, to the trail up to the Rich Mountain Fire Tower - about a 7 mile hike excluding the walk from town. The trail was fantastic, and the view from the tower was amazing. Everything at the top was covered in ice, even though the temp in Hot Springs that day was in upper 40s/low 50s. It was incredibly beautiful. Also secluded - we met no one on the trail. A very rewarding hike.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Very nice out and back trail. Firetower was a beautiful view. Moderate trail, with some good uphill hiking

Monday, February 22, 2016

A great loop hike with several nice pubs and a mineral soak to finish the day - What more could you want?

Like most folks, I recommend doing it counterclockwise:

1) The descent down the Roundtop trail, while not very scenic, provides a pretty neat perspective of the dramatic slope of the ridge.

2) The busier parking area on the Silvermine side is preferable to the relative remoteness of the reservoir at the Roundtop trailhead. The car would probably be fine.....but who wants to ponder such things on the trail?

The whole loop is 13 miles long if you include the extra mile up to and back from the Rich Mountain tower on the AT.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Great hike but actual route is closer to 12 miles instead of 10. Did not find the fire tower so the scenic views were not what we expected, but the hike itself was great.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Great day hike. Didn't see a sole after leaving the Appalachian.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Nothing bad to say here grizz and Chaplin is back on the trail

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Walk out of town on the right side of the bridge as you reach the other side look over the guardrail for some stairs. Follow the road upstream to the trail start. The first climb is intense over 850ft in 15min. Three more moderate to strenuous climbs bring you up to 3200ft. Now the make a left on Roundtop Ridge and start the continuous 2.5+ miles decent back down tothe river. 3950ft elevation gain, 11miles, 5hrs, @4.5mph moving speed 2mph avg

6 months ago

Friday, July 15, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

trail running
Wednesday, May 20, 2015