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Swain County North Carolina Hiking Trails

Yellowhammer Gap Trail

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

Nantahala National Forest

Length: 1.7  miles
Rating: Moderate/Strenuous

Route 1 - North to South: Start at the Slickrock Trailhead parking area below Cheoah Dam. Walk in about a half mile to the junction of the Slickrock Trail and the Ike Branch Trail. Turn left onto the Ike Branch Trail and proceed for about 1½ miles to the junction with the north end of Yellowhammer Gap Trail.

Route 2 - South to North: Start at the Big Fat Gap parking corral. Take the Windy Gap Trail which exits at the north end of the parking area. Proceed for about about 1½ miles to the junction with Nichols Cove Trail. Proceed north on Nichols Cove to the junction with Yellowhammer Gap Trail.

Yellowhammer Gap 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 2-3 hours from the parking area at Cheoah Dam if you take the north (lower) to south (higher) route. If  you select the south (higher) to north (lower) route you should allow 1-2 hours to reach Yellowhammer Gap Trail.

Yellowhammer Gap Trail usually has sign markers at its junctions with other trails. The trail is well used, particularly in the summer months. At the junction of Nichols Cove trail and Yellowhammer there is the Dotson  grave site. A head stone reads: The Dotson' lived in the area of Yellowhammer Gap and took care of people's livestock that ran on free range land.  He was a minister and preached at the church on Meadow Branch. It is believed that the family was originally from Tennessee.


Yellowhammer Gap Trail is located about 15 miles north of Robbinsville on U.S. 129 North. As you travel north on U.S. 129 you will be driving above Santeetlah Lake. Then the road turns down hill and parallels the Cheoah River. Within a half mile of crossing the Cheoah River at the Tapoco area, you will arrive at the south side of the Cheoah Dam. Turn left off of the highway onto a dirt service road before crossing the dam. This is the trailhead and their is adequate parking just after turning off the highway.

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