Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pisgah National Forest: Max Patch Mountain

There was rain in the forecast for this afternoon, but this morning looked good for hiking, though a bit overcast. Noelle, Sierra, and I packed the car and headed out for a grand adventure. Our destination was Max Patch Mountain, described by some as the most beautiful spot on the Appalachian Trail. It was foggy and rainy when I hiked over Max Patch during my thru-hike and so I’ve long been wanting to return to this spot for some time to check out the view.

First we had to get there though. It was a long drive from Del Rio, Tennessee up to the remote Round Mountain Campground. From there we headed up to Lemon Gap where we crossed into North Carolina and followed the gravel road to a small parking area near Max Patch.
Max Patch Sign
It was cool as we got out of the car and got our gear ready for our hike. 

From the parking area we took the trail that headed to the right. It skirted around the side of the summit and traversed intermittently through grassy areas and trees.
Hiking Amongst the Grass
We saw some beautiful azalea in bloom
Azalea in Bloom
along with lots of hawkweed. After a short hike we found ourselves at the Appalachian Trail.
Sierra on the Appalachian Trail
As this was Sierra’s first time on the famed trail (other than a short section that follows the sidewalk through Hot Springs, NC) we took a photo and then ascended towards the summit.

The hike along the AT to the summit was wonderful, offering plenty of views of the surrounding mountains.
Noelle Hikes Max Patch
While it wasn’t the clearest day ever, we were still able to enjoy ample views.
Daddy and Sierra
We were soon at the summit where we took some photos
Noelle on Max Patch Summit
and then we started our decent. We saw lots of little, furry caterpillars along the grassy trail before reentering the woods.
We stopped to take a break at a campsite in the woods
Happy "Backpacker"
and then followed the Appalachian Trail for a bit to the intersection with the Buckeye Ridge Trail. We followed the Buckeye Ridge Trail along an old road bed in the woods before finding ourselves back at the intersection of the trail we followed to the AT. We followed this trail back to the parking lot.

At the parking lot Noelle fed Sierra a little and then we hit the road. I decided to take a less rugged route home and so we descended the mountain from the North Carolina side to Harmon Den and then to Interstate 40. Along the way we saw a snake in the road, a black rat snake. We slowed down to take a look and saw that it had a frog in its mouth. An interesting sight! From the interstate it was a long drive back to Greeneville through Newport.     

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