McAfee Knob

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McAfee-Knob

McAfee Knob is the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail. The knob has an almost 270-degree panorama view of the Catawba Valley and North Mountain to the west, Tinker Cliffs to the north and the Roanoke Valley to the east.

UPDATE: The trailhead parking lot on Rt. 311 will be fully (as in 100%) closed for 12 months, beginning 11/30/2023, while construction of a pedestrian bridge across Rt. 311 is built. Only the parking lot will be closed, the Appalachian Trail will remain open. Click here for a list of alternative parking options. You will be ticketed/towed if you park along Rt. 311. Carpooling is recommended.

Note: The McAfee Knob hike is one of the most popular hikes along the entire Appalachian Trail and sees a tremendous amount of hiker traffic.  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. 

McAfee Knob Trailhead Shuttle: Avoid parking headaches by utilizing the McAfee Knob shuttle service. This seasonal shuttle runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with the occasional holiday Monday. The 2023 shuttle season ends 11/26/2023. The shuttle will then resume March 1, 2024 through November 26, 2024. The shuttle departs every 30 minutes from Park & Ride at I-81 Exit 140. Learn more and reserve your spot.

Trail Description

McAfee Knob is one of three hikes that make up the Appalachian Trail Triple Crown in Virginia. This overnight backpacking trip begins and ends at the Route 311 Appalachian Trailhead. This is a difficult hike totaling about 32 miles and includes McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon’s Tooth.

mcafee knob triple crown virginia

  • Approximately 7.5 miles round trip.
  • Allow 4-6 hours for full roundtrip hike.
  • The 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 on to McAfee Knob. Follow the white blazes – which are 6-inch 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 before 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.

Rules & Regulations

  • Maximum group size for day hikes is 25 people
  • Maximum group size for backpacking/camping is 10 people
  • Bring lots of drinking water
  • Bring a flashlight as groups often lose track of time and are hiking back in the dark
  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times
  • No camping or campfires on McAfee Knob or Tinker Cliffs
  • Practice Leave No Trace
  • No camping or campfires outside of the seven designated shelters/camping areas
  • Visit local A.T. Club for more details

Directions to Trailhead

From Roanoke – take I-81 south to exit 141. Turn left at the traffic light onto route 419 (Electric Rd.) and follow 0.4 miles to the next traffic light (Rt. 311N). Turn right onto Route 311N and follow 5.6 miles to the top of the mountain. The trailhead parking lot is at the very top on the left. Be careful turning into the parking lot as it is a semi-blind turn. Do not park on the side of Rt. 311, you will be ticketed and towed.

Add-on Adventures

Nearby Breweries

  • Barrel Chest Wine and Beer Expand Collapse

    Barrel Chest has Roanoke’s largest, most expertly curated selection of craft beer and fine wine. It is the only retail store in the area to have beer on tap, wine by the glass, and growler fills to go. Beer options include plenty of names you know and beers brewed on site.

    Open daily.

  • Big Lick Brewing Company Expand Collapse

    Big Lick Brewing Company was Roanoke’s first nano brewery and taproom; while it has grown the idea that it is “specializing in craft beer with an emphasis on quality and variety” has not. You might find anything from a cream ale to IPA to porter at any given time.

    The taproom is open Wednesday through Saturday. Bring your growler for a fill-up to go.

  • Golden Cactus Brewery Expand Collapse

    We brew every week, usually a beer we’ve never made before to keep things fun and fresh. We’re colorful, kid friendly, and love to share behind the scenes of how we brew. Visiting us is like visiting your grandma’s greenhouse on a warm Spring day.

    Hours of Operation

    Mon. – Thurs. 3 pm – 9pm
    Fri. – Sat.  12 pm – 10 pm
    Sun. 1 pm – 8 pm

  • Golden Cactus Brewing Expand Collapse

    Specialty craft beer brewed in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia.

  • Olde Salem Brewing Company – Roanoke Expand Collapse

    The newest Olde Salem Brewing Company location is on the corner of Church and Market Streets in Downtown Roanoke. Come have a beer with us.

    Monday-Thursday: 11am-9pm
    Friday-Saturday: 11am-11pm
    Sunday: 11am-8pm

    Be sure to check out our Salem location too.

  • Olde Salem Brewing Company – Salem Expand Collapse

    Located at the very heart of Salem Virginia’s Historic Main Street District, Olde Salem Brewing Co. exudes history. The building was constructed just 114 years after the town was founded in 1806 by James Simpson; and was home to a well known appliance store for decades. Olde Salem believes its craft beers hold a piece of that history in every glass.

    Open Tuesday through Sunday.

    Be sure to check out our downtown Roanoke location on the corner of Church and Market Streets.

  • Parkway Brewing Company Expand Collapse

    Parkway Brewing Company is a 4 vessel, 30 bbl micro-brewery with a 17,000 barrel capacity, in Salem, Virginia, specializing in distinctive ales for the discriminating beer enthusiast. Founded in 2012, Parkway Brewing offers several beers exclusively on-site, as well as flagship beers sold in bottles and kegs throughout Virginia.

    Random live music, from old-time bluegrass to blues and rock, and a variety of food trucks make this a destination for weary travelers who need a break from driving on Interstate 81. A casual, low-key vibe, along with some stellar brews keep the locals coming back for more. Family friendly and boasting an outdoor beer garden, Parkway Brewing has become one of Salem’s most unique and welcome community assets.

    The tasting room is open seven days a week:

    • Mon. and Tues:  2-8pm
    • Wed. and Thurs:  2-9pm
    • Fri. and Sat: 12-9pm
    • Sunday:  12-8pm
  • Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage Expand Collapse

    Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage has 23 rotating taps of Starr Hill craft beer, including special pilot batches that you can only find in Roanoke. The location has live music and open mic nights and there’s often a food truck on-site. Brewery is open daily.

  • Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery Expand Collapse

    The Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery – Roanoke is located in the heart of Downtown directly across from Center in the Square. The kitchen specializes in creating locally-sourced, beer-infused dishes designed to complement the season as well as what’s on tap. From Southern classics to modern favorites and our kid’s menu, you’ll find something for everyone. Location serves flagship and seasonal beers, plus unique, locally focused styles brewed on the pilot system and from other taprooms.

  • Twisted Track Brewpub Expand Collapse

    The Twisted Track Brewpub thrives to be a destination for the whole valley and beyond; the premier brewery in the Roanoke Valley, brewing everything from traditional European ales to American IPAs , stouts and sours, while specializing in lagers. The aim is to add a new twist to the existing craft beer scene and to serve and nurture our wonderful community – our home.

    In addition to hand crafted beer, we offer pub fare with yet another twist and a selection of wines, ciders and soft drinks – something for everyone.

    Open hours: 4:00pm to 9:00pm Tues. thru Thurs., 12:00pm to 10:00pm Fri./Sat., and 12:00pm to 7:00pm Sun

Nearby Food

Nearby Shopping & Gear

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    The Hunter’s Den in New Castle is a one-stop shop for hunting needs (rifle and archery).

  • Just The Right Gear Expand Collapse

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  • Sherwood Archers Expand Collapse

    Sherwood Archers is a private archery club serving the Roanoke Valley of Virginia. Sherwood is affiliated with the Virginia Bowhunters Association. The purpose of the club is to foster, expand, and perpetuate the practice of all phases of archery and to encourage the use of the bow in the hunting of legal game. The range consists of one 28- and one 14-target field course, a five lane indoor range and seven outdoor practice targets.

    As a member of Sherwood you have the opportunity to participate in archery events such as indoor winter leagues, 3D field tournaments, and you can shoot at your leisure. Sherwood has picnic and primitive camping areas available for member use.

    Contact us via swarcher11@gmail.com.

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