Appalachian Trail: Brown Gap to Max Patch

Go 6.9 miles on the Blue Ridge, mostly tracing the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, to one of the largest balds in the Southern Appalachians.
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The summit of Max Patch might be the best picnic spot for a Blue Ridge sunset. This 6.9-mile route traces the NC/TN border along birch- and larkspur-lined paths.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 5.9



Location: 35.7731018066406, -82.995849609375

Ascend log steps from Brown Gap (3,500 ft.) through a hardwood forest to the ridgeline; toothwort, stonecrop, and larkspur grow at your feet


Location: 35.7781715393066, -82.9827270507812

Drop to S side of ridgeline, where in spring the blooms of mountain laurel and pungent evergreen galax grow in this warmer, drier environment


Location: 35.7824211120606, -82.9784164428711

Ascend back along ridgeline


Location: 35.7892303466797, -82.9702529907226

Look S for a flat, sheltered campsite (room for 2 or 3 tents)


Location: 35.7893600463867, -82.9636001586914

L @ Y; hillside and path with pink-striped spring beauties. Catch glimpses of Max Patch through openings between trees


Location: 35.7922210693359, -82.9618530273438

Straight @ 4-way across Max Patch Rd. (NC 1182). Descend and cross small stream through thinly wooded hillside with yellow birch


Location: 35.7927284240723, -82.9581909179688

Straight across grassy road; ascend SE side of bald on steep log steps


Location: 35.7945899963379, -82.9579772949219

R @ Y; listen for Eastern towhees and field sparrows in fields below


Location: 35.7973709106445, -82.9565963745117

Grassy summit of Max Patch (4,629 ft.) anchors SW end of Buckeye Ridge. Expansive 360-degree views of Smokies; Mt. Mitchell rises in the E. Backtrack to trailhead