Tanyard Gap on the Appalachian Trail near Hot Springs, North Carolina
Tanyard Gap Access Point on the Appalachian Trail is easy to reach from a major highway and allows good parking space. The hike south to Hot Springs is mostly downhill. The first mile is on an old road and at the end you have a 1/2 mile section of walk along the French Broad River as you come into the town.
Hiking north to Allen Gap, there is a Fire Tower at the top of Rich Mountain 2.4 miles up. A possibility is to park at Tanyard Gap and hike from the top of Rich Mountain down to Tanyard Gap.
Parking is limited at Rich Mountain Fire Tower but (when your time is limited) it’s the best spot in the county to shuttle up to the top and then walk down because it’s just 2.4 miles to Tanyard Gap. The drive up to the Fire Tower is 5.9 miles but as it is gravel road, it takes awhile at 10-15 mph. From Hurricane Gap (4.6 miles driving up Lookout Mountain Road) to Allen Gap is one of the prettiest stretches of the Trail in Madison County. It’s not very strenuous and you will walk along the top of a ridge past large hardwood trees. From Tanyard Gap on the Appalachian Trail, the Town of Hot Springs is 5.9 miles and Allen Gap is 8.8 miles.
Sites on the Trail from Tanyard Gap to Allen Gap:
There is a wonderful view from the top of the Rich Mountain Fire Tower (Elev 3550')–when access is open to the stairs.
There is another spot along Lookout Mountain (the road to the top) at Hurricane Gap (4.6 miles up) but there is no designated parking there. You would have to park on the side of the road or near the gate for the unused forest service road. Or you could shuttle up to there and walk down.
Note on the elevations for hiking up to the Fire Tower: Tanyard Gap is 2280'; Hurricane Gap is 2900' and Rich Mountain Fire Tower is 3550'.
Driving Directions to Parking: GPS location = N35° 59.2’ W082° 47.2’
From Hot Springs: Take US Highway 25 south for 2.7 miles from the junction of US Highway 25 and River Road. You will go under a bridge that is the AT. Turn left just past the overpass to Parking for Access. After turning left, make another left turn toward the Mill Ridge Bike Route. Park at the north end of the one-lane bridge over US Highway 25.
From Mars Hill or Marshall: Take US Highway 25/70 to the junction with NC Highway 208. Go left on US Highway 25 for 1.9 miles and turn right for access parking. (This is just before an overpass which is where the AT crosses over US Highway 25.) After turning right, make a left turn toward the Mill Ridge Bike Route. Park at the north end of the one-lane bridge over US Highway 25.
Hiking the Trail:
To hike north to Rich Mountain Fire Tower (2.4 miles), go the direction of the blaze in the woods.
To hike south to Hot Springs (5.9 miles), go the direction of the one-lane bridge over US Highway 25.