Trail Guide: Mt Hardy - 10 points

Drive Guide - Atlanta to Mt Hardy (Buckeye Gap Trailhead)

  • Duration: 171 miles, 3:05
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta (33.917, -84.3378):
  • Seasonal/Limited Access: Check the BRP Closure Map.
  • Directions:
    • I-285 to I-85 N. I-985/GA-365/US-441 N and go 96.
    • US-23 N and go 20
    • US-23 N (Great Smoky Mtn Expressway) and go 13.1
    • L to Blue Ridge Pky ramp
    • L onto Blue Ridge Pky and go 18.1
    • Park at Rough Butt Bald at MM 425.4. (MM get smaller as you travel north.)
    • Note: If Parkway closed, alternate trailhead at 35.30339,-82.90863 on NC-215. (Longer hike.) If you reach the parkway entrance at 35.4378, -83.0761 and it is closed (50 minute drive + an extra round-trip hour of hiking):
      • Continue straight on US-23 N and go 4.1
      • Exit 98, US-23 Business.
      • R on US-23 Biz and go 2.3
      • R on US-276/Pigeon St and go 4.6
      • R on Edwards Cove Rd and go 1.6
      • Bear R on NC-215/Lake Logan R and go 15.5
      • Parking on R, just before Parkway.
      • To get home from here: Continue south on NC-215, turn R on US-64, turn L on NC-281/SC-130, R on SC-11, I-85 south.
  • Food
    • Last McDonalds: Clayton + Franklin
    • Penultimate McDonalds: Cornelia

Drive Guide - Black Balsam to Mt Hardy (Mt Hardy Gap Trailhead)

  • Head back to BRP on Black Balsam Knob Rd. R on BRP and go 4.0

Trail Guide - Mt Hardy Gap to Summit

  • Duration: 1:10 up; 0:55 down; 0.9 miles
  • Navigation
    • Even with GPS, I lost the trail several times. If you aren’t sure where to go, look to your left about 15’ uphill to find the trail continuing in the same direction.
    • The trailhead is 10’ (compass) north of the end of the paved drainage ditch. There’s a tree with a leaning lower trunk and a fork above the lean to mark the spot.
    • Park 50’ (compass) north of the end of the paved drainage ditch. There’s a grassy shoulder large enough for 1-2 small cars.
    • This is a tough route. If I want to reach the summit in 1:10, I’d prefer to jog the Buckeye Gap route rather than do this one again!
  • GPS Failure recovery: Head compass south until you reach BRP. The terrain is rough. If you lose GPS, you’re in trouble.
  • Trailhead altitude (Mt Hardy Gap): 5520’ @ parking 35.2994,-82.92559
  • Summit altitude: 6140’ @ 35.3031, -82.9276
  • GPS tracks/waypoints: Follow GPS trace.

Trail Guide - Buckeye Gap to Summit

  • Duration: 1:40 up; 1:15 down; 2.2 miles
  • Navigation
    • Caution: Even with a GPS and an accurate trace, I made two wrong turns.
    • Trail is too wet for sneakers; need dry hiking boots.
    • The trailhead is across the street from one end of the parking.
      • Compass north end of the lot. Parkway mileposts say it is southern end of lot because the northbound parkway heads south here.
    • After a few hundred yards, note the metal posts. When you return, retrace your route; there’s a risk you’ll wander off to the right.
    • At 1.3 miles (about 0:40 for me), there is a steep, vague trail climbing up to your right. Take this trail. (I missed it, and went along the level trail.)
  • Trailhead altitude (Buckeye Gap): 5300’ @ parking lot @ 35.3041900, -82.9422550
  • Trailhead altitude (Mt Hardy Gap): 5520’ @ parking @ 35.29949,-82.92544
  • Summit altitude: 6140’ @ 35.3031, -82.9276
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • 35.3087,-82.92525 = Intersection with route from NC-215 (Buckeye Gap route)
    • 35.30589,-82.92599 = Intersection of Mt Hardy Gap trail with other routes.

Summit Guide

  • Hang antenna from tree: Yes
  • Space to guy mast: Yes
  • Cell coverage: I got 1 SMS out and then no AT&T cell in 2019; Yes APRS.