Virginia's Blue Ridge is Open for Business!

Governor Northam has lifted mask mandates for fully-vaccinated individuals, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Businesses retain the ability to require masks in their establishments. Effective May 28, Virginia eased all distancing and capacity restrictions. Learn More >

Image
Search
Search
×

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.


Know Before You Go

Before visiting McAfee Knob, please familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace 7 Principles. McAfee Knob is one of the most popular hikes on the East Coast and it's critical that we all do our part to recreate responsibly and help preserve this beautiful space for years to come.

Consider carpooling or ridesharing to limit overcrowding in the parking lot, and if possible, avoid visiting on the weekends - when the trail is most crowded. Please also remember to pack out all trash you see and stay on the designated trail.

You can also check out this video that was created in partnership between the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for other helpful tips when hiking McAfee Knob.

Overview

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!

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

McAfee-Knob-Virginia

McAfee Knob Trail Length

Follow the approximately 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 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 to 6 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 Hike Trail Map

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.

Return to top.

Directions to McAfee Knob

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.

McAfee Knob Parking

There is limited parking at the trailhead on Catawba Mountain at 4440 Catawba Valley Road. Parking is prohibited on Route 311 near the trailhead and cars parked along the side of the road will be towed.

Alternative Parking Options

  • Carpool Lots: 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 or the I-81 Exit 140 Park & Ride Lot.
  • Catawba Sustainability Center - 5061 Catawba Creek Road, Catawba, VA 24070 - There are 25 parking spaces available (day use only, overnight parking is not allowed) for vehicles, including 2 handicapped spaces, and a wheelchair accessible porta potty. Follow the orange blazes along the trail that will connect to the Appalachian Trail. From this lot, it is a 10 mile round trip hike to McAfee Knob.
  • Catawba Community Center - 4965 Catawba Creek Road, VA 24070 - 15 parking spaces available for vehicles (day use only, overnight parking is not allowed). From this lot, it is a 10.5 mile round trip hike to McAfee Knob.
  • Learn More: Catawba Greenway Parking & McAfee Knob Hike >  

Also, hiking the trail during off-times is encouraged to help avoid overcrowding in the parking lot and along the trail.

If the parking area is full, consider one of many other great nearby trails, such as along North Mountain, where you can get a view of McAfee Knob. Treat it as an opportunity to be a #Trailsetter and explore new places! 

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.

Virginia Triple Crown Camping Map

Return to top.

McAfee Knob - What's Nearby

Dining
Downtown Salem is less than 15 minutes from the McAfee Knob parking area and offers plenty of local dining options. A few of our favorites include Mac & Bob's for their amazing calzones, Allsports Cafe for delicious burgers and wings, and Macado's for great sandwiches. Visit our Salem Food & Drink page for a complete list of options. 

Outdoors
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
 Map
Details
Roanoke Valley Spotlight

These guidelines are a great way to protect nature when you spend time on the trails and outside.


Purchase a special McAfee Knob t-shirt and help support the local Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.


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