There are often downed hemlocks on this section of trail due to the hemlock wooly adelgid.
The most common entrance point for this trail is Slick Rock Road, which bisects this route. From the road, there is a northern and a southern extent of the trail.
South section of Hangover Lead Trail:
From Saddle Tree Gap heading north, descend 0.2 miles on Trail 56 to a side trail on the right 0.3 miles to The Hangover for great views of lakes and ridges.
Returning to Trail 56, begin your descent to Big Fat Gap. There are several seeps over the next few miles, but no major creeks with year-round water. At mile 0.4, there are some amazing overlooks of the valley below, but don't miss the sharp right turn in the trail. The game trail leading down the ridge quickly becomes a scramble through the rhododendron if you're not paying attention. Continue on to Big Fat Gap at mile 3.1.
Big Fat Gap is often used as a starting point to run either the North or South sections of Hangover Lead, and is accessible from Slickrock Creek Road, NC Forest Road 62.
North section of Hangover Lead Trail:
Continuing to the north from the South section of Hangover Lead, you gain 300 feet in the next 0.3 miles to the top of Cold Spring Knob. The trail continues to follow the ridge, often steeply to Yellow Hammer Gap, intersecting with Belding
and Tapoco Trails. From that intersection, the trail continues on briefly until its terminus at Ike Branch Trail.