ALERT: Appalachian Trail Reopens

Effective June 13, the National Park Service has reopened the Appalachian Trail in Virginia's Blue Ridge, including the Triple Crown area hikes of Dragon's Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs. Visitors are advised to continue observing public health guidelines and practice Leave No Trace principles. More Information >


McAfee Knob

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.

UPDATE: Effective June 13, the National Park Service has reopened the Appalachian Trail in Virginia's Blue Ridge, including the section for the McAfee Knob hike. Visitors are advised to observe CDC guidelines regarding public health and social distancing and to practice Leave No Trace principles, including packing out all trash. National Park Service News Release >


Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe PledgeWith 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!

The knob is located atop Catawba Mountain with an elevation of 3,197 feet and is one of the highlights of the Appalachian Trail.


Trail Length

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.

McAfee Knob is an extremely popular hike and becomes especially crowded on weekends, with very limited parking availability. If possible, consider hiking the trail during the week to avoid larger crowds.

Leave No Trace

Please adhere to Leave No Trace principles of disposing of any waste and doing your part to help keep this wonderful trail accessible and enjoyable for others for many years to come. Respect the wildlife and natural environment of the area and minimize your impact so as to maintain the integrity and quality of the trail. For day hikes, please do not travel in groups any larger than 25 people. Learn more about what you can do to help preserve the outdoors by visiting the Leave No Trace website >

Return to top.


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.


There is limited parking at the trailhead on Catawba Mountain. Parking is prohibited on Route 311 near the trailhead and cars parked along the side of the road will be towed. If you're in a group with multiple vehicles, please consider using the Park & Ride lot in front of Orange Valley Market at the intersection of Route 419 & Route 311.

Return to top.

Camping & Campfires

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.

Campfires are also prohibited on McAfee Knob and are only permitted at the designated camping sites.

Learn more by visiting the website of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.

Return to top.

What's Nearby

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!

Return to top.

Close Map
View Map

McAfee Knob

Catawba Valley Drive
Catawba, VA 24070
Roanoke Valley Spotlight

Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge

Get to know the iconic mountain in Virginia's Blue Ridge where you hike to McAfee Knob.

Hike all three legs of the Virginia Triple Crown to experience incredible summits and stunning views.