Trail Run Project Logo

Max Patch Short Loop

  4.8 ( 22 ) Favorite


1.5 mile 2.4 kilometer loop
90% Runnable


Ascent: 242' 74 m
Descent: -249' -76 m
High: 4,605' 1,404 m
Low: 4,363' 1,330 m


Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by Max Willner

A popular route for runners and stargazers alike - at 4600', this bald spot offers excellent views.

Max Willner

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Max Patch is open year-round. Please be sure to stay on the marked path. Erosion is an issue with folks cutting off the path. Making your own fire ring is not permitted.


Max Patch Mountain (part of the Pisgah National Forest) is a bald mountain roughly equidistant from Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC (about a 1.5 hour drive). This particular loop branches just off of the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Max Patch is part of the Bald Mountains Range. At the summit (roughly 4600') visitors can see the Unakas to the north and the Great Smoky Mountains to the south, with the Great Balsam and Black Mountains to the southeast.

This is also an ideal location for stargazing. There are multiple campsites in the nearby forest, and it's a short journey to get back to the summit.

Need to Know

It's always roughly 10-15 degrees cooler at the top, so it's a good idea to bring a jacket.


From the parking area, visitors have the choice of going directly up the trail to the summit. This may prove difficult for some runners. Fortunately, there is an easy loop trail that goes from the parking lot to the mountain summit and back. If you wish to prolong your journey, there is the option of taking the Buckeye Ridge Trail back to the parking lot instead of continuing on the Max Patch Mountain Loop Trail.

Driving directions:
From Hot Springs follow Hwy 209 South. Turn right onto Meadow Fork Road at the Max Patch sign. Turn right onto SR 1181 and follow the signs to the parking lot.

Directions via I-40 from Asheville: Take I-40 West about 40 miles to exit 7 (Harmon's Den). Take a right on Cold Springs Road. This gravel road leads to SR-1182 (Max Patch Rd). It's recommended that drivers take a 4WD vehicle in inclement weather, as handling may prove difficult. Turn left and drive 1.5 miles to the Max Patch parking area on the right.

Latitude: 35 46' 49.44" / Longitude: -82 57' 12.6"

Flora & Fauna

There are blackberry bushes, rhododendrons and coniferous trees, including a variety of wildflowers that cover the mountain in the spring.

This is also a great location for birding enthusiasts; such species include but are certainly not limited to: Black-throated Blue Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, Blue-headed Vireos, Brewster's Warbler, Canada Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Golden-winged Warblers, Goldfinches, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, and Yellow-breasted Chat.

History & Background

Max Patch is a man-made bald - farmers in the 1800s would often clear the trees at the top to provide their cattle with a grazing area.

The bald was once used as an airstrip in the 1930s, where biplanes provided scenic rides for tourists.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Runner Notes

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.


Rate This Featured Run

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Run

Check In


Jun 16, 2019
Cole Radford
1.5mi — 1h 00m
Apr 30, 2018
Kimi deMent
Dog had a great time cleaning up some Doritos left by AT hikers. She's committed to leave no trace!

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 22 votes


  4.8 from 22 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star
Featured Run Rankings


216 Views Last Month
5,158 Since Dec 2, 2015



Max Patch with awesome Sun rays.
Sep 30, 2015 near Marshall, NC
A sea of forest extends in all directions from Max Patch Mountain.
Dec 3, 2015 near Marshall, NC
Appalachian Trail, Max Patch; March 25, 2018
Mar 30, 2018 near Marshall, NC
The view from Max Patch
Sep 30, 2015 near Marshall, NC
The Peoples Trail - A photo shot of a couple along the Appalachian Trail from atop Max Patch Mountain in Pisgah National Forest. There are many stunning views along the 2,200-mile east coast trail, but nothing quite like the panoramic scene of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Apr 7, 2016 near Marshall, NC
Depending on the wind, it's also a great place to throw a frisbee.
Dec 3, 2015 near Marshall, NC


Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running