McAfee Knob is one of the most photographed sites along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The knob features a 270-degree panoramic view of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north, and the Roanoke Valley to the east.
The trail is rated moderately challenging and takes about 4+ hours to complete, so plan your start time accordingly. Be sure to wear good walking shoes and take water, a flashlight (cell phones don’t count), a snack, a map, a compass, and extra clothing. The trail is located on National Park Service land between VA Route 624 (Newport Road) and VA Route 652 (Mountain Pass Road).
Trail begins on the opposite side of Rt. 311 from the parking lot. Cross Rt.311 with caution. You will travel north on the Appalachian Trail (AT) on to McAfee Knob. Follow the white blazes – which are 6” rectangular paint marks placed periodically on trees at eye level.
After ~0.3 miles you will come to an informational kiosk.
You will cross four wooden walkways prior to reaching the Johns Spring shelter. You will then cross five more wooden walkways before reaching the Catawba Mountain shelter.
Next you will cross an old fire road and a power line clearing. Continue 0.5 miles further and turn left onto the McAfee Knob spur trail to arrive at the lookout in ~30 yards.
Retrace your steps or turn right once you reach the alternate fire road for your return trip.
The McAfee Knob hike is one of the most popular hikes along the entire Appalachian Trail and sees a tremendous amount of hiker traffic. The trailhead parking lot (Rt. 311) has limited space; DO NOT PARK on Rt. 311 or the adjoining side street – YOU WILL BE TOWED. It is ideal to hike this on a weekday as weekends are crowded. Vehicles not parked in the parking lot are subject to towing.