Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hiking One of the Most Traveled Sections of the Southern Appalachian Trail - McAfee's Knob Loop

McAfee's Knob

The McAfee's Knob hike begins at the junction of the Appalachian Trail and Route 311, just outside of the city of Roanoke, Virginia. It is approximately 3.9 miles long creating about an 8 mile round trip. An old fire road parallels the first 3 miles of the trail making the trail to the top very accessible by just about everyone. The trail overlooks the valley from Catawba Mountain. It begins at Route 311 and immediately ascends a stone stairwell to a series of switchbacks that reach to the crest of a narrow steep ridge passing by the Boy Scout and Catawba shelters. Water supplies at these shelters and along the trail may be seasonal and cannot be relied upon for drinking water. Therefore hikers should carry their own water for the trip. The mountains here sit on the edge of a giant sandstone out-cropping known as the Pulaski Fault. A series of narrow foot bridges carry the hiker over some of the rock ledges of the fault. Depending on the season the trail is dotted with a wide variety of flowers and trees. This area is known for its mountain laurel and redbud trees. Because of its hanging seedpods, the redbud is considered to be a member of the pea family. It is also called the flowering Judas tree. Some people believe it is the tree Judas Iscariot hanged himself from. At the top of McAfee's Knob are several large outcrops that jut out from the mountain side. Views from the top are breathtaking of nearby Tinker Cliffs and Catawba and Roanoke valleys.

 Hundreds of people hike this trail each year.  Wear and tear from hikers and downed trees from severe weather takes a toll on the trail.The large volume of hikers and the sandy soil causes the trail to require lots of maintenance.


                              Hiking along the ridge of McAfees Knob Trail.

                                    Wooden bridges over sandstone outcrops

Tree falls across the wooden bridge.

A soil replacement trail for the destroyed wooded bridge

View of Catawba Valley from the trail

A sign announcing the end of the trail and top of the mountain

McAfees Knob

Psalms 121:1-2  I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.