North Carolina November 01, 2017
A Little Known Place In North Carolina That’s Perfect To Get Away From It All
On a clear day, you can see Mt. Mitchell and miles of Smoky Mountain Vistas on what has been deemed “the crown jewel of the Appalachian Trail.” Intersecting at the top, Max Patch is referred to as a ‘bald,’ a Southern Appalachian term to refer to a hilltop without a single tree. While Max Patch isn’t naturally this way (it was cleared for grazing in the 1800s) it still makes for a more than idyllic getaway.
Located in the Pisgah National Forest, and near Hot Springs, this 4,600 ft bald has been used for not only timber but beautiful views and an escape from the ordinary. Cleared to make use for a pasture, today you still get a very 'Sound of Music' feel when standing at the top. The 350-acre tract of land gives way to 360-degree panoramic views.
From the gravel parking lot within Pisgah, you can take two different options. One is a 1.4-mile hike that takes you directly to the top while the second is a 2.4-mile loop that guides you around the mountain.
From the gravel parking lot, you’ve got two choices for getting to the top of Max Patch: the 1.4 direct-to-the-top trail or the 2.4-mile loop. Two easy loop trails lead you to, and around, the summit. The 1.4-mile short loop crosses the summit. The 2.4-mile loop circles the mountain for outstanding views from all the sides. The options are not marked, but it's hard to get lost atop the bald. From the parking lot, follow the trail to the left to ascend through a forest and reach the top. Or head up the steeper wider trail straight ahead.
Neither trail is marked, but it's somewhat hard to get lost here. The 2.4-mile loop continuously rewards hikers with several Smoky Mountain Vistas offering a glimpse inside the many different viewpoints surrounding Max Patch. This brisk hike is best completed in half a day. You can also hike north or south on the Appalachian Trail once at the top.
For your scenery, it really gets no better. The Smoky Mountains majestically unfold about the scenery, spanning what feels like hundreds of miles. To the west you'll see an elevation drop of 3,600 feet and into Tennessee, and 50 miles away a dark ridge representing the Black Mountains. In and of itself the view is an array of a bit of everything Blue Ridge.
For a day of hiking, weekend of camping, and even passing through on a much longer journey on the Appalachian Trail, Max Patch is a place one certainly remembers and longs to revisit time and time again.
Max Patch is a beautiful escape from reality, have you visited here before?
For more ways to make the most of fall in North Carolina, takes
these 10 gorgeous hikes before it’s too late.