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Rich Mountain Lookout Tower and Lovers Leap - Pisgah National Forest, NC


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
12.8 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

Resources:
7 hours with 1 hour and 45 minutes of breaks
3,584 ft
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From:

Parking off Silvermine Rd. 35.89290, -82.82194

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins ()

The Appalachian Trail dramatically climbs above Hot Springs, NC along Lovers Leap Ridge, a popular, short day hike with spectacular views of the French Broad River. However, if you want to tackle something a little longer and tougher, you can utilize the Roundtop Ridge Trail to make a large loop around the Bald Mountains above this famous trail town. The trail follows the former route of the Appalachian Trail to the slopes of Rich Mountain (3,670 feet). A short side trail takes you to the summit, which is home to a 30-foot steel lookout tower originally built in 1932. Although access to the cab is dubious, since the lower stairwell has been removed, the tower is scheduled to be rehabilitated in 2018 allowing full access to the top. From the tower catwalk you’ll be treated to excellent views of the Bald, Black, Great Craggy, and Newfound mountain ranges. On the return to Hot Springs the Appalachian Trail passes through Tanyard Gap and then Mill Ridge before climbing up Lovers Leap Ridge. The last 1.5 miles of this hike is filled with outstanding views of the gorge, river, and Hot Springs as the trail switchbacks down the steep ridge. The finish is a nice stroll beside the mammoth French Broad River with riverwide rapids to enjoy. Parking is available at the Nantahala Outdoor Center boat take-out beside the U.S. 25/70 bridge. If you only have a couple of hours we recommend taking the 1.6-mi Lovers Leap Loop Trail.

Alternate Hikes - If you only have a couple of hours we recommend taking the 1.6-mi Lovers Leap Loop Trail. The shorter option to see the lookout tower is a 5.2 mile/1,430 feet gain hike from Tanyard Gap.

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