Over 600 miles of hiking & biking trails have earned us the title of "Best Trail Town" in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee Knob in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge is on the bucket list for hikers from around the world.
With its stunning, 270-degree panoramic views of the surrounding valley and mountains, along with its signature ledge that has become a popular place for photos, McAfee Knob should be included in any trip that includes hiking in Virginia's Blue Ridge.
It's been recognized by USA Today Travel as one of the most spectacular hikes in the United States!
Follow the approximately 4.4 mile, white-blazed trail that gradually makes the ascent to McAfee Knob - a peak of 3,197 feet. For the return, retrace your steps along the trail for a round-trip hike that's approximately 8.8 miles.
For a more leisurely return, turn right on the old fire road that's approximately 1.4 miles from the knob. Take the fire road for just over 2.6 miles until you reach Route 311 and the parking lot, which will be on the other side of the road.
It's a steady climb of 1,700 feet that is moderately difficult and you should give yourself at least 4 hours to make the trip. The knob is also a popular place for picnics, though exercising caution is necessary because of the steep drop-offs nearby.
There are also some great opportunities along the trail for bouldering, which you can learn more about by downloading this guide.
From Interstate 81, take Exit 141 to VA 419/311. Go north for approximately 1/4 mile and turn right on Route 311. Travel 5.5 miles north on Route 311 to the top of Catawba Mountain, where there's a gravel parking lot and the spot where the Appalachian Trail crosses the road. From the parking lot, walk back across Route 311 to begin the hike.
Please respect the No Camping restriction on McAfee Knob to help preserve this beautiful area.
Camping near McAfee Knob is only permitted at the designated sites and shelters along the Appalachian Trail, which are the Johns Spring Shelter, Catawba Mountain Shelter, Pig Farm Campsite and Campbell Shelter.
Work up an appetite during your hike and then head down Catawba Mountain for a Southern feast at The Homeplace. This all-you-can-eat family style restaurant (open Thursday-Sunday) is a popular spot for Appalachian Trail hikers who indulge in fried chicken, cobbler, green beans, and all your favorite comfort foods in a classic, farmhouse setting.
If you're looking for a day full of hiking, tackle another adventure along the Dragon's Tooth Trail or at Tinker Cliffs. The trio of trails has become affectionately known as the "Triple Crown" and is one of the most breathtaking stretches of the Appalachian Trail.
You can also experience world-class mountain biking at the nearby Carvins Cove.
Things to Do
Take in the all the fun in the nearby City of Salem. With its charming downtown area full of shops, award-winning craft beer at Parkway Brewing Company, and exciting events at the Salem Civic Center, there's always something to do in Salem!