Have you recently seen the damage that vandals in 4x4's and recreational vehicles have done to Max Patch bald high on the mountain in the Madison county area of the Pisgah National Forest? According to the Citizens times news site online, in an article dated January 28, 2013, there have actually been multiple and on-going destruction to Max Patch bald. Once a beautiful place to camp, hike through or too just go and visit as a way of getting away, this area of the trail has to be one of the most beautiful spots. In the summer the place is kept mowed by the areas Appalachian Trail maintaining club of North Carolina. It is always filled with tents and if you are hiking the trail, this is one area where you will stop and take in some of the trails farthest views.
Due to the bald of the mountain and the elevation, 360 degree views are possible, in good weather. The place is magical and hikers that have hiked over this bald will tell you, it is one of the place on the trail that you will never forget. Just look at the pictures in the slide show that is included with this article of the bald before vandals found it. The vandalism is great, we are talking barbed wire fences cut, forest service signs and AT signs ran down and pulled up from the ground, other fences torn down and ran through. Then there is the destruction at the bald, ruts as deep as 3-4 inches are cut all over it because of heavy vehicles doing so called “doughnuts” up there. The mud is the worse because of the snow and with it melting the ground is so soft.
Appalachian Trail maintainers have continuously repaired the damage to the fences and signage to no avail. Every time we go back up there, says one volunteer, the damage has been redone. They even report that they have put up new barriers and signs that tell onlookers that no motorized vehicles are allowed up on the bald or past a certain point on the AT. The vandals tore down the signs and drove through the barriers. Now according to law enforcement in that area, those that are part of this destruction are coming close to felony actions. Law enforcement, the Appalachian Trail maintainers club of the bald and the forest service of Pisgah National Forest are asking for your help. They want you to report anything you know about this vandalism, it must stop. The bald, the AT and the wilderness is not for destruction, it is for all to enjoy and so it is everyone's job to protect it.
Those of you that are hiking through this area are encouraged to report any vehicle tag numbers and descriptions you see to local law enforcement. Together we can stop this madness and we must. Also, if you are hiking through this area please be careful. The mud and ruts are very intense and you could easily fall and break an ankle or twist a knee hiking through there with a pack on your back. Usually when something like this takes place on the trail the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservancy) closes the portion down until it is safe again. So far this has not happened, and for good reason. We need to catch the vandals so eyes needs to be on the ground. Recently there was a report of a hand full of jeeps and 4x4 vehicles at the Max Patch parking lot below by volunteers.
As they approached to speak to the drivers they saw that a law enforcement ranger was already talking to them. Some driver were cited but the destruction has continued even after that. It is obvious that there are a number of people that are part of this destruction. Why I have no idea and I just can not understand vandalism, especially to a place in nature like this. If you have any information about this crime please contact either the Appalachian Trail Conservancy or the local Sheriff's office in that area at James "Buddy" Harwood, Sheriff (828) 649-2721 . As a hiker and nature enthusiast, I am appalled at this damage and outright disrespect both for the Appalachian Trail and for nature. The Appalachian Trail is both a place for all to enjoy as well as heal in both mind and body. Hike on!