Rich Mountain via Appalachian Trail

1 review #202 hike out of 616 in
10.1 mi
4 hrs 32 min
2,313 ft
Elev Gain


This is a moderate hike on the Appalachian Trail, though there are a couple of steep sections that will give you a workout. After a short section walking along the French Broad River, there is a short but steep climb to get to the ridgeline above. From there, there are several very nice view spots of the river and valley below.

The next several miles are much more gradual ups and downs, with some highlights being an old, dammed mill pond and a large field with seasonal wildflowers.

At Tanyard Gap, there is a bridge over Hwy 25, and there is a parking area where you could set a shuttle for a shorter return hike. The summit of Rich Mtn is about 2.5 miles from this parking area, and the climb is moderate and steady.

The highlight of the hike is the metal fire tower at the summit, with 360º views from the platform at the top. In recent years, this platform was rebuilt for safety, and you can go all the way into the open cabin.

Other than a complete return to the trailhead (which is almost 16 miles), there are a couple of popular return options:
1) If you set a shuttle at Tanyard Gap, the total hike distance is around 10 miles.
2) You can return on the Roundtop Ridge Trail, after backtracking ~1/2 mile on the AT. This provides some different views as you descend the ridge, and a hike distance around 13 miles.

Getting Started

The trail begins at medium sized dirt parking lot beside the French Broad River, in Hot Springs, NC.

Taking Children

This trail is fine for children. There are a few rock ledges near the start of the hike that could be dangerous, and care should be taken if climbing the fire tower.

    Rate this Hike

    user_profile stars
    3 years ago
    Did this hike 10/31/2020, except we returned on Roundtop Ridge Trail to make it a loop. Excellent hike, and the views from the fire tower are stunning. In the past, Roundtop Ridge Trail has been terribly overgrown, but somebody has recently done extensive work to clear it. We paid it forward by clearing numerous downed branches and small trees from the hurricane remnants that came through last week. Hopefully this trail will get enough use to remain clear.
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Public Tracks

Damien Pierce 4 years, 1 month ago
cregg.madalyn 4 years, 1 month ago