Max Patch & Harmon Den

On the Tennessee state line, not far from the Great Smoky Mountains, rises Max Patch Mountain. At 4629 feet elevation, this grassy summit is not the highest mountain around, but it is considered by some to be the “crown jewel of the Appalachian Trail”. 360-degree views and plenty of relaxation await the hiker at the top, with views into the Smokies, toward Mount Pisgah, and all the way to areas like Mount Mitchell to the east.

But that’s not all that’s available for hikers in this area. Drivers along Interstate 40 west of Asheville, just before the Tennessee state line, encounter what is known as “The Gorge”. Towering cliffs and mountains that soar more than 4000′ above the road create an impressive backdrop for the winding highway. The interstate snakes its way along the Pigeon River, which has cut a deep chasm between the Great Smoky Mountains to the southwest and the Bald Mountains to the Northeast.

Between the Gorge and Max Patch Mountain is an area known as Harmon Den. It contains quite a few more hiking trails and attractions to explore. A couple of off-trail waterfalls top off the list of attractions in the area.

Aside from I-40, there are only a few winding country roads that connect you to this area, and there are no major towns in the immediate vicinity.