Max Patch

Area Status: Open
This area is Open
 

Max Patch sits next to the Tennessee state line in the Harmon Den area of Hot Springs, NC. At 4,629 feet this bald offers 360-degree vistas of Mount Mitchell to the east and Great Smoky Mountains to the southwest. An abundance of ferns and grasses blanket the bald, making it perfect for picnics. Fishing is offered at the pond past the main parking lot. The Appalachian Trail crosses this area. For information on the Appalachian Trail visit www.appalachiantrail.org 

 

 

Update 9/22/2020:

We’re getting a lot of questions about what you can and can’t do at Max Patch since the sharing of some photos that showed a lot of tents and trash there. We agree, Max Patch has become an increasingly popular destination due to social media. The parking lot is small so have a back-up plan to visit another location if the lot is full. Parking along the road is prohibited in some areas so check for signs. Cars parked along the roadway have created a hazard by interfering with the flow of traffic and your car may be towed. Emergency vehicles must have a clear path.

While we don’t want to bring any more attention to Max Patch because it’s already too popular, we do need to address this issue to reduce the number of phone calls we’re getting about it.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the volunteers (who tend to be older and high risk) have not been on site to educate visitors on Leave No Trace, guiding them to designated system trails. Help reduce your impact on the site by following Leave No Trace Principles including staying on trails, taking home all trash, and disposing of human waste properly. See www.fs.fed.us/lei/no-trace-ethics.php for more information.

For rules and regulations on flying drones see https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/aviation/uas/responsible-use

Please see Information below for Dispersed Camping Rules, including the use of campfires, on Max Patch.

 

 

At a Glance

Reservations: No Reservations Required
Fees No fees associated
Permit Info: Groups of 75 or more are required to request a non-commercial special use permit and receive one before engaging in activities on NFS lands. A special use permit is required for any temporary event on National Forest System lands where an entry or participation fee is charged, or where paid membership in a group or organization is a prerequisite for participation.   For More Information: Forest Use Permits  
Open Season: Year Round
Usage: Heavy
Busiest Season: April-October
Restrictions:
Water: None
Restroom: None

General Information

Directions:

From Hot Springs take NC 209S for 7.3 miles to SR 1175. Go south on SR 1175 for 5.3 miles. Take SR 1181 about 3.5 miles to the end. Turn right on SR 1182 for 1.5 miles. Please be aware this parking lot holds approximately 11 cars. You may not park on the road if the parking lot is full. The road to Max Patch is a State Road- maintained by NC-DOT and TN-DOT. 

 

 


General Notes:

Dispersed Camping Regulations for Max Patch:

While we don’t recommend camping at Max Patch due to the danger of lightning and high winds, you can camp there, but you must be at least 200 feet from the Appalachian Trail. Camping in this area is known as dispersed camping and there are additional rules that apply:

  • Camp at least ¼ mile from trailhead, 200 ft from any water source and ¼ mile away from any developed recreation area
  • Keep campfires small, confined, and never unattended. Use only local firewood but do not cut down any trees. Be sure to completely and safely extinguish flames and make sure coals are cold to the touch before departure.
  • You must practice Leave No Trace principles including take all trash home with you and deposit human waste in catholes dug 6-8 inches deep. For more information see www.fs.fed.us/lei/no-trace-ethics.php.

The Appalachian Trail traverses the Bald of Max Patch. It is about ¼ mile hike from the parking lot on the trail loop. Please do not hike directly up the bald and please do utilize the actual trails. There are two trails up to the bald- a longer hike to the right, and a shorter hike on the left. There is no motor vehicle use of any kind past the parking lot.

You must make sure you are at least 200ft from the Appalachian Trail. This may not be marked- so be sure you contact them before your departure in order to know where you may and may not camp. www.appalachiantrail.org

There are also general prohibitions that apply to all camping including:

  • Camping or maintaining a campsite in excess of 14 days within any 30 day time period, unless the campsite has been posted with different stay limits by the Forest Service.
  • Re-establishing a campsite less than 10 miles from the previously occupied/vacated campsite (when the combined length of stays will exceed 14 days within a 30 day period).
  • Leaving camping equipment unattended for more than 24 hours without permission.
  • Failing to remove all camping equipment or personal property when vacating the area or site.

Parking:

Parking is available in the parking lot below the bald. The road to Max Patch is a State Road- maintained by NC-DOT and TN-DOT. The parking lot is small so have a back-up plan to visit another location if the lot is full. Parking along the road is prohibited in some areas so check for signs. Cars parked along the roadway have created a hazard by interfering with the flow of traffic and your car may be towed. Emergency vehicles must have a clear path. Reservations of parking spots or spots on top of the bald are also prohibited.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities


Camping & Cabins

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Fishing

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Hiking

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Nature Viewing

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Picnicking

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/nfsnc/recarea/?recid=48620