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Swain County North Carolina Hiking Trails

Hangover Lead South Trail

Pets must be restrained or on a leash at all times while in developed recreation areas.

Nantahala National Forest

Length: 2.8  miles
Rating: Moderate/Strenuous

The trailhead is adjacent to the parking area at Big Fat Gap.   The south portion of the trail begins in the southwest corner of the parking area by the Forest Service information sign.  There is no car camping or tent camping in the car park area.  There are tent camping sites that can be found a few hundred yards down the Windy Gap Trail.

Approximately 2.8 miles to the terminus of the Hangover Lead South Trail at the Haoe summit of 5,249 feet, here are several trail junctions at the parking area or along the way: Hangover Lead North, Big Fat, Deep Creek, Windy Gap and Haoe Lead Trails.

The Hangover Lead South Trail is highly recommended for novices or experienced hikers who are in good condition. It would be a challenge for smaller children. With a group at a casual pace, allow 6 hours for the round trip to the Haoe summit. For the more aggressive hiker, 3½-4 hours should be sufficient time. Bring water and protective clothing if your trip is going to be more than a few hours.

Hangover Lead South Trail is easy to follow and well used.  There are signs at the trail junctions.  You will traverse several gaps that are adequate camping areas.   At approximately 2½ miles you will come to the Saddle Tree Gap camp area.   The trail to the right (south) leads to the top of Haoe and the junction with the Haoe Lead Trail.  The trail to the left (north) leads to the Hangover Lead overlook which offers a panoramic view of the area.  The Deep Creek Trail junction can also be found at Saddle Tree Gap.


The turn off  for access to the middle of the Hangover Lead Trail is located about 12-13 miles north of Robbinsville North Carolina on U.S. 129 North. As you travel north on U.S. 129 you will be driving above Santeetlah Lake and  then the road turns down hill and parallels the Cheoah River. Be alert for a bridge that crosses the Cheoah River.  It is the only bridge crossing the river before the bridge at Tapoco Lodge.  If you get to Tapoco Lodge you've missed your turn.  After crossing the bridge stay on the main used portion of the Forest Service Road.  It is about 7 miles to the Big Fat Gap parking area.  On the way you will pass the Bear Creek Hunting Camp and the Orr Cemetery.

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