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

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

Looking back over my Appalachian Trail Map #4 from 1993, it has to have been 25 years since the last time I have set foot on this part of the trail. Normally I have a great memory of the trail, but this time I don't remember much of the details. It's almost 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 to pick from for this 8.3 mile out and back hike. The easiest of the two is to take the fire road (easy/moderate) up to the point where the fire road intersects the Appalachian Trail or just take the AT (moderate/strenuous).

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 picture at McAfee Knob.

In peak hiking seasons it can be very difficult to find parking at the trailhead and a steady flow of hikers on the trail. If you want to get a jump on the trail and catch that sunrise there is 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 

But catching the summit with nobody at the top can be done but it might be short-lived. The popularity of this hike, it can take 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.

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

In the picture above just left of the valley is Gravley Ridge which is the location of The Murder Hole Cave.

Tinker Cliffs in the Jefferson National Forest
Tinker Cliffs

Pictured above is Tinker Mountain and the summit point known as Tinker Cliffs. The Appalachian Trail makes its way to the cliffs. 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 climbs on the Appalachian Trail together.

Lunch on McAfee Knob Savor the Adventure
Lunch Break

We made it to the summit a little faster than we had planned, and that pushed us to have an early lunch.  The wind had picked up a little so it was nice to have the mountain laurel as a windbreak.

There are two AT Shelters near McAfee Knob. South of the summit is Catawba Mountain Shelter (holds 8). There are also overflow campsites just north of the shelter and a spring. North of the summit is Campbell Shelter (holds 8) and there is also a spring 0.10 from the shelter. RATC updates its Facebook during the summer months on the spring water levels.

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, and overnighter or tackling the Virginia Triple Crown, plan on a lot of trail users. To solve some of the trailhead parking and safety issues for hikers crossing VA-311 check out my post on how you can help to improve trailhead access to McAfee Knob.