Off the Beaten Path: Max Patch

Max Patch Feature

Photo Credit : Angie Stanley

Located on the Tennessee and North Carolina border, just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, lies quite a hidden gem.  Max Patch, nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains, offers spectacular views of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina.

The area was cleared and used as pasture land back in the 1800′s and is said to at one point to have had a landing strip back in the 1920′s.  Maintained by the Carolina Mountain Club, the bald if left unmowed, would quickly grow back in to the dense forest land that surrounds it. The Forest Service also uses prescribed burns and luckily for the day adventurer, they have worked vigorously to maintain the beautiful 360 degree view of both the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.

Max Patch Feature 2

Photo Credit Angie Stanley

At 4,629 feet the open area is accessed by two different trails, once you get to the parking area.  Both are clearly marked, and let you know which way is the easy way, and the more strenuous route.  One is roughly half a mile with a steady incline through both meadows and woods, eventually connecting with the Appalachian Trail.  The more strenuous route is just a bit longer in distance, and also cuts through the meadows and woods, with a steep elevation gain and stairs for the more seasoned hiker.

Max Patch Feature 3

Photo Credit : Angie Stanley

If you were to go and enjoy Max Patch, be sure to bring plenty of water, a snack, and perhaps a picnic meal.  The Bald offers spectacular views of both the sunrise and sunset, and is sure to take your breath away.  Be sure to wear study shoes, and longer pants, to prevent injury and tics, for at certain times of the year the grass is known to be very high.

To get to Max Patch, locals recommend approaching  via I-40 to Exit 7, once you get in to North Carolina.

Max Patch Feature 1

Photo Credit Angie Stanley

Exit 7 veers into the Harmon Den Wildlife Management Area on Cold Springs Creek Road. Within 5 miles traveling on the winding gravel-packed roads, turn left on the marked Max Patch Road turning in a mostly northwest direction. This will continue to the Parking area for the trail head.

Source: Angie Stanley, Staff Writer, Gatilinburg Daily Post