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Troutville, Virginia

Hike McAfee Knob

8.8 Miles Total - 1740 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Christin Healey

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!).

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Dog Friendly
Easy Parking


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Overall rating: 

about 4 years ago

One of my Favorite Parts of the Appalachian Trail

If there was only one section on the southern half of the Appalachian Trail I could hike it would be McAfee Knob! This place is incredible!

over 4 years ago

Great but crowded

This is kind of what I'd consider a "bucket list/must see" spot if you're a hiker in VA. I agree with the reviewer who said its a good winter hike. I sort of took that to the extreme- I went in early March and camped out and it was windy and got down below 10 degrees on the mountain. If you're geared up for it it's worth it though. The hike itself can be tough at times- mostly thru the woods with a fair amount of elevation gain. That gorgeous view is worth it though. Even in that crazy weather we encountered quite a few people on the trail, and even though we got to the top shelter early, there was no room (full of partiers- as was the St Johns shelter) and we had to find a tent site. I guess that's the price we pay for being in the perfect spot to catch the sunrise view. Seriously though- if it's that crowded in the bitter cold I cannot imagine what it's like when the weather is nice. Seems like a super popular spot for VA Tech students.

Be Prepared For Crowds

McAfee Knob has one of the best views in Virginia, but be prepared for the crowds. Sometimes the parking lot fills up so be sure to get there early. Both sunrises and sunsets are great from atop the Knob.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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