Max Patch Loop Trail

Hot Springs, NC
Length: 1.50 mi.
Type: Loop

About This Trail

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Max Patch is a 1.5 mile moderately easy trail located near Hot Springs, NC, to the top of a bald with 360 degree views.

From the parking area, go left on the blue-blazed trail up an incline until the trail connects with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. Turn right and follow the AT up a short but steep distance to the summit.

The bald is expansive, with eastern views of Mt. Mitchell (the highest point in NC), and western views of the Great Smoky Mountains. This is a common overnight stop for AT thru-hikers during the spring and summer, and for picnickers and day hikers.

To return to the parking lot, either retrace your steps, or continue to follow the AT south down a set of stairs until reaching another junction; another blue-blazed trail will turn right and wind around the bald back to the parking lot.

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Trail Features

Seasons Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter
Surface type Dirt
Elevation gain 430 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms No
Cell reception Spotty
Pet friendly Yes
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby Yes
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Camping Nearby, Shelter, and Viewpoint

The main highlight of this trail are the incredible 360 degree views–this trail is an excellent place to watch the sunset, and you will almost always have company if you choose to do so. Even at midday however the views are worth the climb, and for such a short distance it’s a must-do trail if you have kids. The bald leaves so much open space at the summit for running, games, frisbee, or whatever else little ones might find to do in a wide open space! Make sure to check the weather forecast before setting out however–it can be very windy, and is cooler at the summit that neighboring towns. Avoid this trail if there are storms, as hikers have been struck be lightning due to the absence of tree cover.

Camping is not permitted on the bald, but dispersed camping is available along the AT northbound from the summit, as soon as you drop below the treeline. The closest water source is a spring about half a mile from the summit. The Roaring Fork Shelter is 2.1 miles north on the AT and has a stream nearby for water, if you want to extend the hike or turn it into a backpacking trip.

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $0.00

There is no fee to park, but due to the popularity of this trail the parking lot can fill up quickly, especially on weekends or when the weather is nice. Overflow parking is available along Max Patch Rd.

Trail Contributor

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I am the Branch Ambassador for Hike It Baby Chattanooga. A native of Richmond, VA, I spent most of my adolescence and early adulthood hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and once my children were born started taking them on adventures with me! I am a portrait photographer and freelance writer, trying to hike my way through all the trails southeastern Tennessee has to offer.

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