A bald is a big grassy area at the top of a mountain where no trees grow. How balds come to be is not completely understood, but it has something to do with the combination of wind, weather, and soil conditions. Early settlers often cleared the balds for high pasture for cattle. Max Patch Bald, right on the Appalachian Trail, is one of the best examples, and the 350-acre bald has been called one of the crown jewels of the trail. At 4,629 feet, on a clear day you can see
both Mt. Mitchell and into the Great Smokies. On a clear night, the star gazing is terrific. Max Patch is part of the Pisgah National Forest.