Follow Cues from Max Movie to Sniff Out Adventure

Kent Smith / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.Follow Cues from Max Movie to Sniff Out Adventure

Max was filmed at iconic North Carolina locations, including Hooker Falls in DuPont State Recreational Forest

Spoiler alert: While guiding you to several locations where this movie was filmed, this trip idea also discusses plot lines and scenes.

Summer is the ideal season for a family action movie, especially one that inspires travel to destinations known for outdoor adventure. With a winning canine hero, a patriotic spirit and a healing theme, Max creates layers of appeal.

Written and directed by Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans), Max centers on a military-trained Belgian Malinois who returns from Afghanistan when his handler is killed. Adopted by the fallen Marine’s family (Josh Wiggins, Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church), Max finds himself on a new mission.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Paddle a stretch of the scenic Yadkin River near Elkin to see where major action unfolds.

Day 2: Hike to the clifftops at Crowders Mountain State Park at Kings Mountain.

Day 3: Explore the cinematic scenery and waterfalls at DuPont State Recreational Forest between Hendersonville and Brevard.

Day 1: Charlotte to Elkin

North Carolina’s largest city boasts a long list of film credits, including Homeland, The Hunger Games and Shallow Hal. For Max, Charlotte maintains a low profile, with a suburban home, a church and a school establishing the family’s hometown. The Queen City’s location, more than its Max locations, makes it a logical point of departure.

Detour from the direct route to Elkin, and visit the small town of Faith, famous for its weeklong Independence Day festival. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush made a speech at the Faith 4th, and then joined the community softball game. Two decades later, the stars of Max filmed at the Faith 4th, and also returned a week later to restage the parade and fireworks. No matter if you miss the Faith 4th, it’s worth a visit to have lunch at the Faith Soda Shop.

Even without Hollywood’s glow, Elkin commands attention. A finalist for Budget magazine’s “Coolest Small Town” honor, it overlooks the Yadkin River, which defines North Carolina’s largest wine-growing region and creates endless opportunities for outdoor activity. Beyond winery visits, hikes and river paddles, allure flows through Elkin’s restaurants, shops and galleries.

Filmmakers framed the Max finale using a trestle at the junction of the Yadkin and the Mitchell River, a tributary just northeast of town. For the most inviting view, rent a kayak from Yadkin River Adventures and paddle the clear waters. The trestle is also visible from the newly opened Burch Station access point.

Spend the night at a vineyard cabin or a convenient hotel (cast and crew lodging included the Slightly Askew House, Fairfield Inn & Suites Elkin/Jonesville and the Best Western Yadkin Valley Inn & Suites). For dining, take a cue from Max and try Heaven’s Scent or 222 Public House.

Day 2: Kings Mountain

A quick detour from the route to Kings Mountain takes you to Lincolnton, a historic town on the banks of the Catawba River. Downtown Lincolnton is glimpsed in the new Nick Jonas film, Careful What You Wish For, as well as Max, which also shot scenes at Lincoln County Hospital and the Lincoln County Regional Airport. But the most memorable scenery from Max is Betty G. Ross Park on Madison Street, where filmmakers set up a temporary bike park.

Continue to Kings Mountain, home of Crowders Mountain State Park, a dramatic 5,126-acre expanse of peaks, valleys and quiet woods. Hikers often bring their dogs to circle the lake or follow trails to the summit of Crowders Mountain or Kings Pinnacle. Other activities include climbing and bouldering as well as camping.

Filmmakers used the first half of the forested 1.8-mile Tower Trail. The old roadbed climbs to the radio towers near the summit overlook, where the view on a clear day extends 25 miles. For the return trip, hikers can opt for the Backside Trail and count the 336 wooden steps as they descend.

Woods near the parking lot at the Boulders Access Area were also used for Max. Those who prefer hiking to climbing can pick up the Ridgeline Trail and follow it north to Kings Pinnacle or tap into the film’s patriotic spirit by heading south. The trail connects Crowders Mountain State Park to Kings Mountain National Military Park, which commemorates a pivotal Patriot triumph in the Revolutionary War and is part of the Overmountain Victory Trail.

Find a hotel in Kings Mountain or travel 15 miles west to Shelby, known for hosting The Hunger Games shoots and for Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge. Or continue to Hendersonville or Brevard for the night and get an early start on the adventure at DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Day 3: Hendersonville/Brevard

DuPont State Recreational Forest, which straddles Transylvania and Henderson counties, is well-loved for its waterfalls and hiking and biking trails ― and famous for scenes in The Hunger Games and Last of the Mohicans. With lakes, an old rock quarry, two cemeteries, a covered bridge and an airstrip, the forest contains a wealth of scenic options beyond the cascades. DuPont has become so popular that forest officials recommend visiting on a weekday, when parking is more readily available.

In Max, Justin and two friends with bikes ford the Little River below Hooker Falls. Filmmakers also shot footage along the Triple Falls Trail, which runs parallel to the river and passes three of the forest’s star waterfalls. Rock Quarry Road leads to the cliffs seen in the film (keep an eye out for snakes).

DuPont invites exploration on foot, mountain bike or horse. Pedalers can enjoy everything from forest road to slickrock with singletrack and doubletrack trails. Riders can also tap into the vibrant mountain biking community at The Hub/Pisgah Tavern, and Pura Vida Adventures can provide bikes for guided rides. For those who want to see the sights on horseback, Shoal Creek offers DuPont trail rides.

Lodging options include national hotel brands, vacation rentals, and inns in Brevard, Hendersonville and Flat Rock. Downtown dining choices abound, ranging from casual, such as Marco Trattoria in Brevard, to fine dining, like you'll find at Postero in Hendersonville.

Once your adventure ends, it will be easy to relive, just by watching Max again.

Enjoy all the area has to offer by mixing and matching activities and events to your particular interest. Be sure to check days and hours of operation for each venue.

Places in This Trip Idea

Select a pin to see details about a location.

Request your Travel Guide

Download or order FREE guides and maps

Discover Project Project 543

Explore unique spots across North Carolina