I am writing to you fresh from McAfee Knob, and what. a. view. Despite living in Roanoke for the last few years, I have yet to cross the McAfee Knob hike off my bucket list.
It's a 3.8-mile hike to the knob, the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail and sits 3,100 feet above sea level. Parking can be pretty hectic as spots in the parking lot fill up quick, and you have to make sure you don't park in the "no parking" areas.
Luckily, there is a new shuttle that picks up hikers from the I-81 Exit 140 Park and Ride and takes them to the trailhead. Each way costs $5 and takes about 15 minutes to get to the destination. The shuttle continuously makes this loop through operating hours. Personally, this was super convenient for me as I get stressed in crowded parking lots and appreciated not having to worry about whether or not I had a parking ticket the entire hike.
Keara and I began our hike during the cooler morning. The leaves were approaching peak season so there were a lot of pretty colors surrounding us along our hike. We also ran into so many friendly people. We met a local doctor enjoying his day off, a group from Philadelphia who came down just for this hike, and a father son duo celebrating the son's birthday by making their annual trip to McAfee Knob.
As we neared the Knob, we found an overlook where I joked with Keara we had made it. This may not have been the nicest joke because we all were getting pretty tired and just hoping the final overlook would be in sight. After one final stretch on an incline, we made it!
It was so beautiful to see all the mountains, especially this time of year with the leaves in an array of colors. We, of course, snapped some pictures, and enjoyed a little snack before heading back down. Many people were up there while we were there, having a picnic or enjoying the sunny early afternoon.
Going back down went much quicker than the hike up (granted we did start hiking in the wrong direction on the way up so make sure you follow the clearly marked sign instead of ignoring it like we did). The sun was shining through the leaves, making it just warm enough to take off our sweatshirts and finish the hike in t-shirts.
We waited a few minutes for the shuttle, checking where it was at on the route via the Real Time Tracker. We were joined by other hikers, so it was fun to chat with new people on the way back to the Park and Ride.
I had cupcakes and pizza on my mind the whole shuttle ride back, and that is just what I ate that evening! Having gotten in 24,000 steps that day, I think it was well earned!
Cheers to more hiking adventures,