Located about 40 minutes from Hot Springs, NC is Max Patch Mountain, located in Pisgah National Forest. Max Patch Mountain is a 4,600 foot "bald" that provides 360 degree views of the surrounding Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.
Pisgah National Forest, near Hot Springs NC
Incredible scenic views and Appalachian Trail access
From Hot Springs, NC - Take Highway 209 to Meadow Fork Road (also called State Road 1175). Follow it for 5.3 miles to State Road 1181. Take 1181 for 2 miles and then turn right onto State Road 1182. The Max Patch parking is 3 miles.
Standard Day Hiking gear - It's a great place for a picnic as well.
Hiking to Max Patch Video
Hiking to Max Patch
Hiking at Max Patch begins at the parking lot where a trail heads left and another trail heads right. There is a third trail up the middle, that you'll see many people using, but the National Forest signs clearly indicate the trail is closed.
There are two main loop trails on the mountain:
To start either loop, head up the trail to the left, where you begin a gradual incline through a forest up to the top of the mountain and the Appalachian Trail. You'll emerge from the forest onto the bald, and be treated with amazing views all the way to the summit.
Shortly after you emerge from the woods, the trail will run into the Appalachian Trail. For the 1.4 mile loop hike, go right to the summit. For the 2.4 mile loop trail, go left on the Appalachian Trail. The trails are all clearly marked and easy to follow.
In the 1800s, this area was cleared and used as pasture, creating the bald, and fortunately for us today, the amazing view.
Max Patch Summit
The Summit and surrounding area on Max Patch is the highlight of this hike. The summit elevation is just a little over 4,600 hundred feet, and the Appalachian Trail crosses right over it. While not the tallest peak in the area, its position combined with clear top provide some of the best views available in the Blue Ridge. Fan of the Appalachian Trail often refer to Max Patch as one of the Crown Jewels of the trail.
The view to the southwest is dominated by the Great Smoky Mountains:
Sunset at Max Patch
Max Patch is one of the best spots in the area to witness a stunning sunrise or sunset, since you have a nearly 360 degree view. Try top plan your visit, so you can stay and watch the sunset. Bring a picnic dinner, eat, and enjoy the amazing colors, as the sun sets below the peaks.
Remember, some of the most amazing colors occur AFTER the sun drops below the horizon.
Max Patch is a fantastic hike, and made our list of top family hikes and 25 best places to see fall foliage. The short roundtrip trail of 1.4 miles makes the summit easily accessible, even for kids, and provides some of the most gorgeous views in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Max Patch is a great day hike destination, romantic getaway for a couple, and a great place for a family picnic (bring your frisbee and/or kites as well). This should be on everyone's list to visit and enjoy!
Let us know what you think in the comments below!