Your Help is needed to Improve Access to the Trailhead to McAfee Knob

Your Help is needed to Improve Access to the Trailhead to McAfee Knob
McAfee Knob is one of the most photographed points on the Appalachian Trail

Update- On 22 December 2020 a news release made by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy that the efforts of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy ( ATC ),  The Conservation Fund, and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club ( RATC ) have made an acquisition of almost 600 acres to permanently protect and help preserve the iconic views of McAfee Knob and to improve trail access. These properties build upon the Hogan hollow tract which was acquired in 2019. The 8 acres adjacent to the McAfee Knob trailhead were also acquired and the hope is that this property will improve visitors' experience.  Head over to Appalachian Trail Conservancy to read the full news release. 

What great news to hear before the end of 2020! When I wrote this post I needed an idea of the more significant effort to protect and preserve these properties for future trail users. This not only provides better access and user experience but also supports outdoor recreation economies in the community around McAfee Knob. If you enjoy McAfee Knob,  the Virginia Triple Crown,  and the Appalachian Trail think about giving a donation to support these efforts. 

This post was originally published on 19 February 2020

Help is needed to improve access at the trailhead to McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) are working to raise the funding required to purchase seven acres of adjoining property to the gravel parking lot, for the trailhead of the Appalachian Trail and the popular McAfee Knob. 

The parking lot for the trailhead is located along State Route 311 which is a primary road. The lot sits on a mountain top in a curve which can be challenging for pedestrians to cross the road to start their hike. McAfee knob has become a very popular hiking destination that sees approximately 40,000 to 60,000  trail users annually. During the peak hiking season and beautiful weekends, the small parking lot can be overflowing with vehicles which causes its own issues.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has plans to build a pedestrian bridge from the parking lot across State Route 311 so hikers can safely access the Appalachian Trail. VDOT has approved a $2.9 million highway safety grant in funding for the project. The pedestrian bridge is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2025.

The National Park Service conducted a $300,000  Visitor Use Management Plan/Development Concept Plan. In short, the plan was to identify current management issues and develop long-term strategies to enhance access, improve safety, and connect visitors to the Trail resources. Some of the improvements being considered are paving the lot, restrooms, and improved signage.

The seven acres of adjoining property are seen as key to making these improvements happen. The goal of the trail organization is to raise the $200,000 needed to purchase the property by the end of the year. The property would then be donated to the National Park Service. Significant donations have already been made but more funding is needed to complete this purchase.

How Can You Help Out?

It is said that volunteers are the soul of the trail, and the volunteers of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) are just that. They maintain and protect the 120-mile section of the AT. I have seen firsthand the trail work that the club has done on the AT and the Virginia Triple Crown. If you have hiked any of the 120-mile sections that the club maintains and have enjoyed getting that epic photo at McAfee Knob. Then I encourage you to head over to their website and make a donation for this effort. RATC is a 501c3 organization and all of your contributions are tax-deductible. Or you can head to the ATC website and donate there.


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