September 21, 2013

Max Patch

On a warm and humid August day, eleven hikers from the Chattanooga Hiking Club set out on a 14-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT) starting at Max Patch which is halfway between Newport, Tennessee and Waynesville, North Carolina. Max Patch is an open, grassy summit with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. On a clear day, you can see from Mount Mitchell on the east to the Great Smoky Mountains on the south. AT "thru-hikers" (hikers who trek from Georgia to Maine in one continuous journey) consider Max Patch as one of the highlights of their journey and a spot they will long remember even after they've forgotten most of the other details.

After a good night's rest and hearty breakfast in Newportwe started our day at the Standing Bear Farm, a hostel that offers parking and shuttle services to several popular area hikes.  Other services include rustic lodging, hot showers, laundry, phone, and internet to hikers as it is only 200 yards off of the AT.  After we parked our cars, took a comfort break at the quaint privy, we loaded up for an unforgettable hike. 

The hostel lived up to its name.  On the ride to the trailhead, we were thrilled to see Mama bear and two cubs run across the road about 100 yards in front of us although there were no bear sightings on the trail.  Here is more information on Standing Bear Farm. 

Group photos are always best when taken before the hike begins.  Notice the recycled hiking boots.  Yes, those are Impatients planted in the boots. (Photograph courtesy of Arlene Swallows)

As the sign indicates, there are several easy loop trails which cross the summit. Here is more information on Max Patch. (Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin)

After Curtis (owner of the hostel and driver of the van) delivered us safely to the trailhead, we grabbed our trekking poles and backpacks and headed for the summit of Max Patch which, unfortunately, was fogged in and we didn't get to enjoy the 360-degree views.  While hikers always love a great view, never fear, it's all about the hiking and we still had a memorable hike.  Now we have a reason to hike Max Patch again.  

After a short break atop Max Patch, it was on to the remainder of the hike.
"It's the climb.......there's always gonna be another mountain".  At six miles into the hike, the three-mile climb up Snowbird Mountain was challenging. 

Couldn't help but wonder if The Scarecrow, Tin Man, or Cowardly Lion were going to jump out from behind this tree. 

Wildflowers were abundant along the trail, and this flower commonly called Doll's Eyes caught my attention.  Actea pachypoda is the official name--both the berries and  plant are considered poisonous to humans.  Here is more information. 

Lush flora and fauna at the top of Snowbird Mountain. 

A great way to end the post....the beauty of the outdoors keeps calling, and one of the many reasons I love to hike.    This is also my favorite photograph of the day.  The butterfly is a female Tiger Swallowtail. 

Despite two yellow jacket nests, a couple of tumbles, and many sore knees and toes, the group survived and the 14-mile hike was finished before sundown.  Since we hiked north to south, our hike ended at Standing Bear Farm which made it easy to retrieve our cars, load up, and look for the nearest calorie replenishment.   I had just survived my longest hike to date.  Unless you're a very experienced hiker, I don't recommend you start with a 14-mile hike, but I do recommend Max Patch.

Until next time, I hope you Keep on Hiking!


  1. It was a special hike with good hiking buddies, but not for the faint of heart or body! I do love the Patch and wish you all could have seen the spectacular view.


  2. Thanks Reggie. Will plan to go back at least for the view at Max Patch. So true....not for the faint of heart or body!

  3. Great hike, great friends, and a great time.


  4. Thank you, WC, for organizing this wonderful hike!

  5. This was one if my favorite hikes with great friends. I do hope to return on a day we can see the view from on top. One 14 miler down!

  6. Arlene, I agree with of my favorite hikes too! We are really making some wonderful hiking memories, and stories we'll never forget or mention! Yesterday's hike was great too. Glad you are enjoying the blog.