The Hangover via Big Fat Gap Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, NC
DIFFICULTY 18.4 Medium
DURATION 3-4 hours
There And
Back Again
The Hangover via Big Fat Gap

View the world from above at the Hangover in Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness for one of the best views in North Carolina. Starting from Big Fat Gap, take the Hangover Lead Trail south to The Hangover, climbing more than 2100 feet in the process.

At the trailhead, begin on the left side next to the information sign. Look for the trail sign for The Hangover Lead Trail #56 and a trail that goes straight up. The Hangover Lead Trail also goes the other direction, so make sure you're going the correct way.

Beginning with a series of tight switchbacks, the trail gains 900 feet over the first mile but includes sections that are more than 1300 feet per mile. This section will be extra challenging in the fall when leaves make coming back down more like a slip-and-slide.

Halfway up you'll pass a campsite on your right. From here the trail begins to get more difficult, becoming very rocky, rooty and narrow along the steep hillside. At least the ascend gives way a bit, but still stays over 600 feet a mile. At 2.4 miles you'll come to an open view to the west. The trail turns sharp to the left but a side trail to the right gives you more views. When heading up the trail, if anyone is atop the Hangover, you'll be able to see them directly above you from here.

Re-entering the woods, the trail connects with the Hangover Lead Alternate trail #56A on the left. Turn here, passing the Deep Creek Trail just afterward on the right. Walk through a few campsites and smaller side trails, staying straight until the trail dead ends at the Hangover.

Climb on top of jagged rocks to score 360-degree views of the Nantahala National Forest all around you, the Great Smoky Mountains to the north, and the Cherokee National Forest to the west in Tennessee. A couple side trails lead to further views including the short trail that descends straight down a "rock ladder" of small hand and foot holds. This leads to an open rock jutting out of the mountainside granting you 180-degree unobstructed views.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.5 mi
48 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.6 mi
256 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.6 mi
382 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.5 mi
410 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.9 mi
1165 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead The Hangover Lead Trail goes both north and south from this trailhead. You're heading south, so take the trail next to the information board on the left side of the road.
0.62 mi
0.62 mi - Stay Straight The Locust Ridge Trail heads off to the left, stay straight. Unless you're looking for it, you won't even notice this side trail.
1.57 mi
1.57 mi - Campsite on Right, Stay Straight Keep straight at the campsite.
2.3 mi
2.3 mi - Turn Left Side trail on right, turn left on the wider path.
2.42 mi
2.42 mi - Open Views, Side Trail on Right You'll get your first proper views here. A narrow side trail on the right leads to even better views.
2.72 mi
2.72 mi - Turn Left, Then Straight Turn left at the sign for the Hangover Lead Alt. Trail #56A. Shortly afterward stay straight at another signed intersection with the Deep Creek Trail on the right.
2.96 mi
2.96 mi - The Hangover Keep straight through campsites and small side trails until the main trail dead ends at the Hangover. A couple side trails here lead to even more views.
length6 miles
difficulty18.4 Medium-Hard
duration3 - 4 hours
features Dog Friendly  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
elevation gain2200 ft.
park/forestJoyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness
Nantahala National Forest
ranger districtCheoah Ranger District
1070 Massey Branch Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.417315, -83.972694 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°25.04, W 83°58.36 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°25'02'', N 35°25'02'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.417315, -83.972694 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°25.04, W 83°58.36 most GPS units use this one
N 35°25'02'', N 35°25'02'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
FS-62 / Slickrock Road is fine for low ground-clearance vehicles other than navigating around a rock or two. After crossing the Cheoah River on the forest service road, Google Maps shows a sharp turn shortly afterward. The turn is there, but about a tenth of a mile further, so don't worry your going the wrong way.
Parking Capacity
15-20 vehicles.
FS-62 / Slickrock Road is closed seasonally from January 1 - April 1.
Several steep drop offs including at the hangover. Be mindful of pets and children.
Much of the trail is rocky, rooty, and narrow along a steep hillside. Be extra careful in wet and muddy conditions. There are several steep sections that make going downhill difficult, especially if wet or covered in leaves. Take your time.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-4 years ago
All Of The Views
If you need to fill your amazing view quota, this hike should do it. A difficult climb made more difficult with the fallen leaves covering the roots and rocks and making for a somewhat treacherous descent on the way back, it's all worth is for one of the best views in North Carolina. This is definitely worth the effort.
Medium-Hard | Hiked Fall 2019
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