What To Do: • Overview of Activities • The Appalachian Trail • Summary of Appalachian Trail Access Points • Shuttle Service • Background Facts • History of the AT • Hiking Tips • Hiking Guides • Trailfest in Hot Springs • Hostels in Hot Springs • Max Patch • Lemon Gap • Garenflo Gap • Hot Springs • Tanyard Gap • Allen Gap • Devils Fork Gap • Sams Gap
Hike the Appalachian Trail in Madison County, North Carolina
To walk. To see. To see what you see.
–Benton MacKaye on the purpose of the Appalachian Trail
While some hikers do hike the entire Appalachian Trail (the AT), the vast majority of hikers choose to enjoy smaller sections of the trail. From several access points in Madison County, you can hike the southern Appalachians and you don’t have to be a serious hiker. Enjoy the beauty of the AT when spring wildflowers are blooming, or in the fall at peak color foliage season, or any time during the year just for the simple enjoyment.
Get away and enjoy the serenity and camaraderie of hiking a nature trail that is open only to walkers, hikers, and backpackers—and dogs. The trail runs for over 60 miles in Madison County through the Pisgah National Forest. There are 8 parking access points in the county which lead to trails that vary from 6 miles to 20 miles in length to the next access point. If you want to use a shuttle service to get you to an access point, we have that available, too. Or you can walk out for a while and come back to the same point. You won’t find the crowds that you may have encountered in National Parks across the country. That’s the beauty and serenity of the Trail.
Additionally, Max Patch has two self-contained loop trails from its parking area. Max Patch is a “bald”–a mountain summit or crest where you would normally expect heavy forest growth, but, instead, it is covered by thick vegetation of and shrubs. In Madison County, the Appalachian Trail winds its way through a unique stretch of the Southern Blue Ridge—namely, the Bald Mountain range, the greatest part of which are is in Madison County, the only county along the Appalachian Trail to claim this distinction. Big Bald Mountain straddles the Madison/Yancey County line on the AT at the opposite end from the Max Patch Bald.
At one section, the AT runs through the main street of the town of Hot Springs. So, if you want to hike the entire width of the Appalachian Trail (and, yes, you can buy a T Shirt with that phrase), just stand on Bridge Street near one of the trail markers embedded in the sidewalk!
Madison County also offers experienced Hiking Guide Service.
For more information about the Appalachian Trail in other areas, go to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.