McAfee's Knob offers up classic Blue Ridge views with great photography opportunities at the summit. This is also a great intro to hiking on the AT.

From the parking lot on RT311: Cross the road and pick up the white blazed AT headed north. In about .4 miles you will reach an information kiosk where you will continue on the AT. About half way through the hike you will pass Johns Spring Shelter first, then Catawba Mountain Shelter where there is a spring with a white pipe for the constant (and only) water source on the hike. About 1 mile from the summit, you will cross over an old fire road and the AT will bear to the left for the summit -- all of the trail has clear signage and white blazes.

This is a steady climb to the summit, with an elevation gain of 1740ft over the 4.4 miles to the top from the parking lot at RT311, so it's a great workout. The hike is through the woods until you reach the summit, where you will have some of the best views of the Southern Shenandoah Valley as well as the photogenic rock overlook. For your return, simply retrace your steps for a total 8.8 mile hike. OR, if you are photographing at sunset, you may opt to take the fire road back to RT311, shaving 1/2 mile off the trip, and making the return in the dark through the woods much easier (I highly recommend doing this or camping if you want a sunset or sunrise summit!).

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking poles (steep and rocky terrain!)
  • Snacks
  • Pack

If camping:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
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RT Distance 8.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 1740 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Not as difficult as people say!

Don't let the 8.8 miles keep you away from this hike - it's really not as bad as it seems! The first three miles are a breeze. The last 1.2 miles are a little harder but nothing extremely challenging. Very photogenic area, good hammocking spots at the top as well. Highly recommend going sunrise or early. This is one of the most popular hikes in the state so it gets busy really fast. PARKING - is another reason to get there early. THE LOT HAS LIMITED SPACE AND FILLS QUICKLY.

6 months ago

Mountain Diva

Breath taking sunrise and sunset view. Trail was moderate, suitable for family hike. Great for day hike or overnight.

Best At Sunrise

Hands down one of my favorite sunrise hikes. If you don’t want to wake up incredibly early, you can backpack to one of the campgrounds/shelters and stay overnight and wake up to hike the rest of the way for sunrise the next morning. That’s what I did.


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