Max Patch

The long weekend of July 4 - 5, 2004, Will McElwee and I (Bob Laney) took a backpacking trip on one of the most scenic, and famous, sections of the Appalachian Trial called Max Patch. This section is located on the North Carolina - Tennessee border southwest of Asheville.


To make the trip logistics simpler and avoid driving a long shuttle, we made the trip 'out and back.' We went from the public road to the closest trail shelter, then turned around the next day and returned to the trail head. Our weather was decent but threatening rain, with heavy clouds most of the weekend. There were no permits needed or entrance fee; the only cost was the gas to drive and food along the way.

Will has always been a natural backpacker. Back in his college days, he spent 30 days with Outward Bound backpacking all over high altitude Colorado. This trip for him was a piece of cake. We covered about 8 miles going in. Then we stayed at the trail shelter over night, and had a nice snooze. The next day we covered the same 8 miles hiking back out.

Our only difficulty was when heading home after the trip, we stopped in the backpacking mecca of Hot Springs for a simple hamburger lunch. We happened to hit a restaurant where most of the staff had recently quit and the service was terrible. We waited over an hour to get served. Then we were treated to some tourist lady yelling at the manager for 10 minutes. Oh, well, several beers make the time pass more pleasantly.

All in all it was a fun trip.

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.