The Pinecrest Inn in Asheville is located a short drive from some pretty amazing hiking destinations. If you want to see stunning 360-degree views of the mountain ranges from the Black Mountains (Mt. Mitchell) on the east to the Great Smokey Mountains to the southwest, then you have to go no further than 40 miles west of Asheville to Max Patch Mountain. The origin of such grassy balds that dot the mountain landscape in the region has been long debated. Some believe that Max Patch was cleared by sheep and cattle in the 1800s. The area is maintained as a bald by the U. S. Forest Service today.
This past weekend, my family and I ventured up to Max Patch for a short day hike, which even our 7 year old could master. Having read about the fairly easy loop around the bald and interested in the view, we thought this would be a pretty good fit for the day. We headed out with a picnic around 11:00 and hit the road. We took 40 west to exit 7, which is a beautiful drive. Once we exited we turned right onto a gravel road and drove another 6 miles of switchbacks through the Pisgah National Forest. You can’t miss the parking area at the end of the road and just below the grassy dome. Getting out of your car you are instantly wowed!
One of the reasons Max Patch is so appealing is it offers something for everyone. You can hike around the bald on one of 2 loops or you can just take a short walk up, up, up to the summit, but well worth the very short steep hike.
After checking out the map (displayed at the trailhead), we decided on the 2.4 mile loop, which circles the mountain for magnificent views from all sides. As you leave the parking lot, take the trail on the left which is also the AT. It makes its way up the grassy bald, through shaded forest and meadows — finally emerging on the back side of the dome with a short uphill that delivers you out onto the top of the grassy bald and to the most amazing, breathtaking, 360° view of the southern Appalachian mountains.
After taking several pictures at the first trail junction, which presents another option to summit the dome, we took a left and continued along the way, looping around the bald through forest and meadow, stopping for a picnic and finally up the summit from the back side. The summit is a pasture of wild flowers and breathtaking views and caused the girls to break out into an over the top rendition of “The Sound of Music.” I can’t think of a better picnic spot or a place to star gaze. We decided we would have to comeback another time at dusk or even a night trip for the stars.
As we headed back in the early afternoon, we decided to venture over to Hot Springs, NC and visit the Hot Spring Resort for a mineral springs soak. Hot Springs, located along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River, is a town rich in history and natural allure. The hot 100° mineral water was first discovered by Native Americans over 200 years ago. The town’s name comes from the hot springs and this little town tucked away in the mountains has been a resort destination since the turn of the century. Hot Springs serves as an Appalachian Trail town, passing right through town as it passes along the ridges of the Southern Appalachian Mountains (from Georgia to Maine). At the heart of this town is a 100 acre Resort and Spa featuring private modern Jacuzzi style hot tubs, positioned outside along the picturesque banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River. The resorts tubs are supplied with a continuous flow of natural mineral water. We soaked for about an hour and then got some ice cream downtown (just across the street and across the railroad tracks), finally heading back into Asheville only 30 minutes away.
We had a wonderful family outing and so can you! As you can probably imagine, this can also make a great trip just for the two of you. If you are spending a few days in Asheville, this is an easy way to see the remarkable mountains and enjoy the great outdoors. This is just one of the day trips that we can recommend to our guests. Whatever your pursuit — scenic views, a hike, some awesome waterfalls or just a scenic drive, we can offer some suggestions that will help you make the most out of your visit to Asheville. Call Stacy at 888-811-3053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and let this Asheville Inn be your guide. Need a place to stay? Check out our Bed & Breakfast specials.