This is a straightforward route on a section of the old Appalachian Trail before it was rerouted.
From Hot Springs, North Carolina head northeast on US-25 South (Bridge Street) towards Meadow Lane. Follow US-25 across the French Broad River and then make a sharp left turn onto Silvermine Road. Continue onto River Road (to the right) for about .2 mile. Turn right onto Reservoir Road and follow for about .3 mile until it dead-ends at a water tower. This is the trailhead for the Roundtop Ridge Trail.
Water Tower at the Roundtop Ridge Trailhead
Follow the Roundtop Ridge Trail (FS Trail 295) for 3.1 miles to its end at intersection with the Appalachian Trail (AT).
Sign at intersection of Roundtop Ridge and the AT
Make a left onto the AT and follow for a short distance (about .2 mile) to the intersection with the trail that leads to Rich Mountain.
Make a left and follow this short trail for about .2 mile to the summit and fire tower.
Rich Mountain Fire Tower
A good attitude and the normal hiking essentials.
External LinksTrip report for ascent of Rich Mountain via Roundtop Ridge Trail