Suspected Max Patch Vandals Caught

Published Feb 15, 2013

CMC logoMax Patch -- a precious scenic overlook on the Appalachian Trail in the Madison County area of North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest -- was violently assaulted by reckless vandals in late December 2012, in spite of being closed year-round to all motorized vehicles.

Max Patch is prized by hikers and campers, especially because of the 360-degree views it affords of the Smoky, Roan and Black mountains from its 4,269 foot elevation.

Belligerent individuals on ATVs and four-wheel-drive vehicles rammed through Forest Service barriers, dug their way through the soft ground to reach the face of the mountain, creating deep ruts, erosion and other significant damage to the trail and the environment.

According to Appalachian District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service Tina Tilley, some of the suspected perpetrators -- from both North Carolina and Tennessee -- have been issued citations for the damage they are believed to have caused at Max Patch.

Tilley is quoted as saying, "Thanks to the public's help we have received a lot of information about vehicles on Max Patch. Our law enforcement officer has cited some individuals and continues to check out other leads that were emailed or called in to us."

Forest Service spokesman Stevin Westcott says, "We have had a handful of folks who have confessed, and we will end up with about 10 people who will be charged with federal misdemeanors. The primary offenses are off-road travel and damaging resources. Each of those offenses carries a maximum of $5,000 in fines and/or six months in jail. Citations will be issued for court appearances."

Names of the suspects and other details were not revealed because the investigation has not yet concluded.

Volunteers with the Carolina Mountain Club (CMC), based in Asheville, were the first to report the damage. CMC is dedicated to hiking and maintenance of more than 90-miles of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.

Several agencies and private groups, including the US Forest Service, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the CMC, and local ATV clubs, are making plans to repair the wounds caused to Max Patch. Work to repair the destruction is expected to begin in April.

We are grateful to all who preserve Max Patch. We trust that those who have violated the land will be sufficiently punished -- to the degree that others will fear the same consequences should they perpetrate similar crimes.


Tags: Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, News, Crime, US Forest Service, and Appalachian Trail Clubs

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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