Four-wheel drive and off-road vehicles caused significant damage to the Appalachian Trail at Max Patch. / Dwayne Stutzman/Special to the Asheville Citizen-Times

UPDATED: According to the Citizen-Times, several people confessed after public outcry after Max Patch was defaced, and 10 people have been charged.

More from the Citzen-Times here: Suspected Max Patch vandals caught

A public outcry of disgust helped the Forest Service wrangle at least some of the suspected off-road vandals destroying a beloved hiking spot along the Appalachian Trail.

Tina Tilley, Appalachian District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, said that several individuals were issued citations for resource damage at Max Patch, a scenic mountain bald along the Appalachian Trail in the Madison County area of Pisgah National Forest.

In December and January, vandals on ATVs and four-wheel-drive vehicles crashed through barriers, drove up the face of the mountain and created deep ruts, erosion and other damage.

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


Shocker from today’s Citizen-Times: Vandals disregarded signs and gouged the serene face of the Max Patch bald by illegally driving four-wheelers and doing doughnuts. The damage was enough to approach felony levels, according to the Forest Service.

The vandalized areas were fenced off and clearly marked as forbidden to motor vehicles.

“This is the first time we’ve had any bad situations up there,” said Dwayne Stutzman, a volunteer trail maintainer with the Carolina Mountain Club, in the Citizen-Times. “We’ve seen a four-wheeler cut a gate occasionally, but we’ve never seen anything like this.”

Really, jackass vandals? You had nowhere else to ride?

From the article:

 In his nearly 20 years as a volunteer Appalachian Trail maintainer at Max Patch, a beloved mountain bald in Madison County, Dwayne Stutzman has never seen such brazen, senseless vandalism.


“If it needs to be repaired, I’m going to keep going back there. The beauty of the area draws you up there. It’s just a spectacular place,” he said. “In the summer, it’s just covered in tents. We make sure we mow the grass. We try to make it a place where people can come and enjoy it. It’s just one of those magical places on the AT, a place where people want to go. I just don’t understand vandalism.”

(Tina Tilley, Appalachian District Ranger) said the Forest Service will continue to search for the vandals, whose actions are approaching the level of a felony offense. She said it is “a fairly significant number of people” who are apparently local, very familiar with the area and comfortable driving the twisty, remote forest roads after dark, when most day-use visitors have left.

Tilley said the agency, which has an extremely small staff in relation to the million acres of forest land in Western North Carolina, is working on getting a contract to install a more substantial barrier to motor vehicles, and is also asking for the public’s help in catching the criminals.

“The public has been great in informing us. If you can write down a license plate number, that’s just as good as our officers,” Tilley said.

“It’s up to us all to protect these valuable resources. The more people who can help us by abiding by the rules, then the more we can all enjoy the forest.”

Easy to reach, appropriate to novice hikers and providing some of the best views in WNC, Max Patch is one of the most popular and beloved recreation areas for hikers and campers in the area. Its almost mile-high elevation provides magnificent 360-degree mountain views.

Read the complete article here: Vehicles ripping up Max Patch



  1. 4 wheel enthusiast says:

    People born and raised in these mountains respect our God given resources! Its when transplants come to our beautiful mountains doing drugs, drinking, and bringing their whores to have illicit sex to these remote sites, showing off their truck demands a great display of being top dogl ultimately leaving respect for this privilege to partake of the mountain splendor to the dog

  2. SuspiciousMindsWantToKnow says:

    Came across this video this morning. Don’t know if there’s a connection. I know a lot of people who go 4-wheeling out that way who wouldn’t have done that damage.

  3. Rednecks. The internal combustion engine is wired straight to their brains.

  4. What a shame. Morons like this ruin it for legitimate off-roaders who enjoy riding, while respecting the environment.

  5. why?

  6. bunch of jerks

  7. The people who vandalize like this do not appreciate the beauty of these mountains and our state. They have no regard for the sanctity of nature, and are definitely not outdoorsmen. These are likely the same class of folks who think it is ok to litter our roads and highways with no regard for personal responsibility or anyone else but themselves.

  8. People that do this type of vandalism should face mandatory prison sentences. No plea bargains or leniency for first offenses. Oh, and loss of their driver’s licenses, too.

    • there is no license required to operate “recreational” vehicles of this type in NC

    • Though I agree with your sentiment and what these vandals did was deplorable, I don’t think that of all the crimes that should just pass GO and head strait to prison that vandalism should top that list. We giver murderers, rapists, etc. due process at the least we can give these morons due process as well. Ignorance and ‘group mentality’ lead to this, I don’t think anyone of them would of done this damage by themselves. In the end they will ‘pay’ for their crime at some level (even if just community service) and it will be left to us to forgive them.

  9. Disgusting. The problem is that the people who did this are not intelligent enough to understand why they shouldn’t.

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