From Hot Springs, NC, drive 2.8 east on US 25/70 to Tanyard Gap at the crest of the hill and turn left onto paved side road and park in gravel lot just before the road turns left and proceeds over a one lane overpass. White blazes n the pavement lead you a few feet to the trailhead. The AT enters the forest at a small sign just beyond on the right.
From the signed AT trailhead at Tanyard Gap, follow the white blazes into the woods. At 0.1 mile, the trail ascends a log staircase that is cut right into the mountainside. At 0.5 mile, a path leads a few feet to an old forest service road visible from the trail. The AT then proceeds to switchback twice and begins undulating in and out of several finger ridges. It then makes a right turn around the nose of a ridge & passes a small campsite on the left at 1.1miles. At 1.3 miles, the trail crosses a small rivulet that is spanned by a log bridge. The old road is again visible below to your right just before the AT intersects with the Roundtop Ridge Trail (the former route of the AT) at 1.8 miles. The trail then begins to climb steeply towards the summit. At 2.5 miles, there is a sign junction that points the way to the 0.1 mile spur trail to the top of Rich Mountain. Follow the spur to the summit and enjoy the amazing views from the lookout tower that punctuates the summit. The total roundtrip distance for this hike is 5.2 miles (2.6 miles each way).
"It's such a fine line between stupid and clever."
--David St. Hubbins