The Most Photographed Point on the Appalachian Trail McAfee Knob || JNF


McAfee Knob Most Photographed Point on the Appalachian Trail
Richard, Ryan, and I are at the summit of McAfee Knob.


As I analyzed the Appalachian Trail Map #4 from 1993, it occurs to me that it has been 25 years since I have set foot on this part of the trail. Normally I have a great memory of the trail, but this time memory escapes me. Lost are the details of that hike. Which makes this hiking like hiking a new section of trail.

McAfee Knob is a very popular day hike and is known as the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail. From the parking lot just off VA- 311, you have two routes from which to pick for this 8.3 mile out and back hike. The easiest of the two is to take the fire road. The fire road will be an easy/moderate hike up to the point where the fire road intersects the Appalachian Trail, or if you are looking for a moderate/strenuous hike, just take the AT.

My friends Richard, Ryan, and I decided that we would take the fire road up Catawba Mountain to McAfee Knob which is located at an elevation of 3,197ft, and return back to the car via the Appalachian Trail.

McAfee Knob Most Photographed Point on the Appalachian Trail
The required photo at McAfee Knob.


During peak hiking season, it can be very difficult to find parking at the trailhead parking lot. There will also be a steady flow of hikers on the trail. If you want to get a jump on the trail and catch a sunrise at the summit, there's a good chance you won't be the only person at the top.

McAfee Knob Most Photographed Point on the Appalachian Trail
A rare sight, no one at the summit of McAfee Knob 


While being at the summit with nobody there can be done, but it might be short-lived. The popularity of this hike takes a toll on the trail.  Luckily this section of the trail sits in the 120-mile section that is maintained and protected by volunteers from the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club. They do an amazing job! You can support them by volunteering or donating here.

Catawba Vally a view near the Jefferson National Forest
Catawba Valley.


In the picture above just left of the valley, is Gravley Ridge. This is the location of The Murder Hole Cave. The cave is on private property and you must have permission to visit it. Might be a neat side trip after the hike. 


Tinker Cliffs in the Jefferson National Forest
Tinker Cliffs


Pictured above is Tinker Mountain and the summit point known as Tinker Cliffs. You can reach Tinker Cliffs by way of the Appalachian Trail. McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon's Back make up what is called the Virginia Triple Crown. A 35- mile loop that links the three hikes on the Appalachian Trail together.

Lunch on McAfee Knob Savor the Adventure
Lunch Break


Our group made it to the summit faster than we had planned. This caused us to have an early lunch. While preparing lunch the wind started to pick up a little,  so it was nice to have the mountain laurel provide a windbreak.

If you decide to make this hike an overnight. There are two AT Shelters near McAfee Knob. South of the summit is Catawba Mountain Shelter. The shelter will accommodate 8 people. There are also overflow campsites just north of the shelter and a spring to get water. North of the summit is Campbell Shelter. This shelter will also accommodate 8 people. Located 0.10 miles from the shelter is another spring. RATC updates its Facebook page during the summer months on the spring water levels. During peak season other hikers might have the same plan as you. As a reminder, camping and campfires are restricted to designated sites. Fires are restricted to metal fire rings only. There is no camping at the summit of McAfee

We didn't hit the crowds that most people experience, and that was a good thing. Whether you plan this hike to catch a sunrise or sunset, an overnighter, or tackling the Virginia Triple Crown. You need to plan on there being a high number of trail users. To solve some of the trailhead parking and safety issues. Navigate over to my related on how you can help to improve trailhead access to McAfee Knob.


To see more photos related to this post and the Jefferson National Forest, navigate over to Navigate To Your Adventure on Flickr

Now It's Your Turn-

Leave a comment if you have taken a photo on McAfee Knob? Is it on your bucket list?

Comments