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


McAfee Knob
Richard, Ryan and I at the summit of McAfee Knob


Looking back over my Appalachian Trail Map #4 from 1993 it has to be 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 the details.

McAfee Knob is a very popular day hike and is known as the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail. From the parking lot 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
I was there!


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
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. With the popularity of this hike, it can take a toll on the trail.  Luckily this section of the trail sits in the 120 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.

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Catawba Valley


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


Tinker Cliffs
Tinker Cliffs


Pictured above is Tinker Mountain and the summit point known as Tinker Cliffs. The Appalachian Trail makes it's 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
Lunch Break


We made it to the summit a little faster than we had figured 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 their 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. 




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