• Activities:

    Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1640 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Hay Rock is a lesser-known hike in the Roanoke area with stunning views of Carvins Cove and McAfee Knob.

If you're looking for a hike in the Roanoke area without the crowds that McAfee Knob draws, but still want a challenging hike with great views, try hiking to Hay Rock.

This 8.0 mile round trip hike begins at the Park and Ride just off I-81 at the US-220 Troutville/Fincastle exit (150B). The gravel lot is by the first turn on your left after you cross under I-81, next to the Exxon. There is an unmarked trail by the parking lot guardrail leading away from US-220. Follow this trail for 0.2 miles and take a left (go South) at the junction with the Appalachian Trail (white blazes). You'll follow the AT for about 0.8 miles and cross Tinker Creek and railroad tracks shortly after. The trail begins to steepen from here and there will be switchbacks all the way up Tinker Mountain with a total elevation gain of 1640'.

At 2.0 miles you'll reach the ridgeline under a powerline. The view to the northeast here is of Daleville. Continuing on the AT, there are numerous (at least 4-5) viewpoints of Carvins Cove to the south. Carvin's Cove is the second largest city park in the United States, with many great biking trails and water sport opportunities. For a shorter hike, turn around at any one of these viewpoints and retrace your steps back to the car.

If you choose to continue on, follow the AT on the ridgeline for 2.0 more miles, at which point you'll encounter a very large boulder overhanging the trail-this is Hay Rock. For the safest ascent, go around to the right side of the rock and climb up. Be careful climbing up for it is quite steep. The panoramic views of Carvins Cove and McAfee Knob are breathtaking, and a great spot to eat lunch or snack after your hike up.

After soaking in the views, simply retrace your steps north on the Appalachian Trail, turn right on the unmarked trail (7.8 miles into the hike or 3.8 miles once you begin your descent) and return to your car.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Hiking shoes
  • Camera
  • Lunch and/or snacks
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Reviews

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Amazing views from the ridge looking down at carving cove. I didn’t quite expect such an incline in some bits but nothing to bad. all and all my pup and I enjoyed it, though the buzz from the power lines does kill the atmosphere a little.

3 months ago
3 months ago

I've done this hike a couple times. I decided to try to trail run it the second time and it was great! The climb up is steep so I only ran parts, but once you're on the ridge the run to Hay Rock is very do-able. The only bummer about this hike is that you can still hear sirens on I-81 and the buzz of the electric lines. The views make up for it though! I only saw one person when I did it this last time.

5 months ago
5 months ago

This hike is super accessible right off the highway but after hiking for about a mile you forget you're close to civilization. Sweeping views of the reservoir and mountains beyond offer a unique experience. Loved this hike! We went and kayaked below afterwards- also recommend doing this.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Hard to beat the convenience of this hike literally right off the interstate. I enjoy taking my dog on this hike especially since it is much less crowded than either Tinker or McAfee's. And the views are still wonderful once you top out on the first ridge.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The trailhead of this hike, the back of a commuter lot, may seem uninspiring but it quickly gets beautiful. The instructions for finding your way in the description are excellent. Once you get to the top of the ridge there are quite a few outcrops along the way to Hay Rock, each with a beautiful view. I particularly enjoyed the hike because looking out over water is a special sight in the region. An excellent hike and a short commute for anyone living near Roanoke!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Elyse Clark Explorer

Explorer. Hiker. Photographer.

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