~ 1.5 mile

~ 288 ft

Near Hot Springs, NC

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Spring is here!!! We are so excited that we could do this hike on a perfectly clear day. The weather is beginning to warm up but it is at least 10-15 degrees cooler on the mountain, so we still brought light jackets. Max Patch is a great hike for any skill level and is part of the Appalachian Trail. It’s approximately 2 hours from Johnson City, but the 360 degree panoramic mountain views are worth the drive. I am always amazed how much of a pay-off you get at the top with such little effort. The entire hike is a 1.5 mile loop, so the short distance makes it a highly trafficked and easy trail.

The road leading up to Max Patch is a winding, gravel/dirt road. Our mini van did fine but we definitely felt every bump and pothole. It’s not one that we would try on a wintery day because that road would be rough. As you get about 5ish miles out, you will start seeing signs pointing you toward Max Patch.

The parking area is small and cars were parked up and down the road. There are signs marking where not to park. Navigating that area is much easier if all the cars stick to one side of the road.

Once you go to the main sign, you can go left or right and both directions will take you to the summit. There is a sign saying that going left is easier, but we didn’t think going right was bad at all. There is a little bit of a climb with some wood plank steps toward the end, but it was short lived. If you do go right, you will get more mountain views on the way up.

It was a pretty day but there was a lot of recent rainfall. The trail itself was very muddy, which of course the boys loved!

Once you get to the top, the trail will continue right to the summit. There were quite a few people, but it is such a large area that it didn’t feel crowded at all. I imagine it is much more crowded in the summer. We went in the summer more than 10 years ago, so its hard to remember how crowded it was. We saw 3-4 tents at the top.

There are mountains in every direction you look. It literally feels like you are on top of the world. I try to imagine what it must be like through-hiking the A.T. and coming to that beautiful spot, simply breathtaking.

We continued following the loop back around to the parking area. This direction had lots of trees arching over the trail, but they were bare due to the time of year we went. This would be beautiful further into the spring

On a less fun side note….we have noticed that sometimes there is a theme to the type of trash we run across on a trail. Sometimes its beer cans, sometimes food packaging, sometimes paper….this trail was dog poop bags. They were everywhere. We packed out some of them in a grocery bag we had. Don’t forget to pack it out, even dog poop bags!

Overall, this is a great trail for anyone…kids of all ages, new hikers, pups. This is one of the first trails that Darrell and I ever did together. We went way back when I was in PT school and our oldest dog was a little pup.

The boys even asked if we can do this one again soon…I call that a win!