Located just 40 miles outside of Asheville, North Carolina, sits a 350 acre bald at an elevation of 4600 ft with stunning views of the Great Smokey Mountains, the Black Mountains, and the flatlands of Eastern Tennessee.
To put things into contrast, the city of Asheville only sits at 2100 feet, so Max Patch Mountain sits a good half a mile above the city. This geographical bonus means that the weather here will be a good 10 degrees cooler (or more) than in Asheville.
We drove the three hours from Boone, North Carolina last weekend after finally getting a break from old man Winter. With temperatures forecasted to be in the 60’s, and the snow all melted away, it seemed like a perfect time to explore this popular spot.
The drive through Asheville is just amazing, and the city really is beautiful as it seems to be surrounded by mountains. The route we took had us going down I-40 and taking the exit for Harmons Den (exit 7). After taking the right on Cold Springs road, the pavement ended. These types of backroads are very common here in the mountains, and it reminded us of the forest roads leading up to Wisemans View in Linville.
I’m pretty sure a two-wheel drive vehicle could make it here, but I really would advise waiting until at least May or June at the earliest. The snow melt had these roads pretty muddy, not to mention that they were in desperate need of being re-graded. At times it was only possible to go about 5 mph because of the ruts. These roads take you up 2000ft in elevation, and to our surprise there was still a lot of snow on the ground.
After a few miles of twist and turns you finally reach a dedicated parking area for Max Patch Mountain. Arrive early though, because this parking area fills up really fast. In fact the parking lot was mostly full by the time we arrived at noon.
There’s two ways to get up to the bald. If you take the left next to the sign, this begins the 2.4 mile loop that will take you up the backside of the mountain, then across the top, and back down. The path to the right is shorter, and is only 1 mile up to the top of the bald.
We took the route to the left and after walking through 1-2 inches of snow, it started to finally open up to the bald.
On Top of the World
The Appalachian Trail crosses over the bald on it’s journey 2160 miles from Georgia to Maine. After getting onto the top of the bald, we can immediately see why this area is a spot that hikers look forward to on their trek. Out of all of the places that we’ve seen and been, the views here cannot be beat.
You’ll have unbroken 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains. Here at the top, most of the snow was pretty much gone after melting away in the sun. This area used to be all trees back in the 1800’s, before being cleared for pasture land. At one point it was even used as a landing strip! It’s no longer used for pasture land, but it was decided to keep the area clear of any trees so that generations of people could enjoy the views.
Camping seems to be permitted here on the bald, as their was evidence of old campfires. I can imagine the stars at night just being amazingly beautiful with no light pollution to disrupt the views.
If you need an escape from reality and are in the area, we highly recommend Max Patch Mountain. However, we would wait until late Spring, Summer, or Fall to visit. As beautiful as this area is, I can imagine that it’s much more amazing when everything is green again. The ground was a bit saturated on our trip in March, so it really wasn’t possible to put down a blanket and relax.
We’ll absolutely be coming back in the Summer to bask in the sun and enjoy the views! We’ll update this post with more images once we have a chance to re-visit the area.