DO NOT GO UNLESS YOU HAVE 4WD because me and my friend tried to it was beautiful (the pictures anyways) and we were so excited but her car would not have made it a quarter of a mile BEFORE the trail head some cars were parked along the road but before the trail head is a no parking zone so we did not get to see the Devils bathtub
For a really local hike, its great! The Holmes Run part is very average. Paved bike path, views of the stream but somewhat dirty. Passing under 395 is a little creepy as some folks were hanging around the long underpass during the day when i went. Once you hit the Dora Kelly Nature Preserve, it is decidedly moderate! If you stay on the hiking trail there is quite a bit of hill climbing and some switchbacks. The trail pops out of the forest and then joins back up with the bike trail that climbs even more. It's quite lovely. Made the slightly icky Holmes run section very worth it!
Absolutely beautiful! After I parked, I started my walk to the trail. I saw quite a few "no trespassing" signs on either side of the road, which made me nervous, but I continued on straight and I found the trail. The trail is public, and marked with blue lines on the trees so you know you're still on the right track.
There was 1 other person on the trail by the "pools". After chatting with her, I found out she lives there. She was impressed I found it, but the directions were spot on!
Hiked this today and it was cloudy and cool! Great hike, though it is a bit rocky! I had never hiked before and this was definitely a good start! Would recommend following the trail marks from Shenandoah, this park map isn't accurate. Also parking was a little confusing, it is in front of a chained-off private property. Overall loved it, definitely will go back.
Jim T. on McAfee Knob Appalachian Trail
I am 67 my wife is 68.It took us just short of 4 hours to get to the top.Was strenuous for us but well worth it.Amazing experience! Took fire road down in just over 2 hours. Glad we did it.
This is an excellent hike and was a great experience. The only real negative was the woman working the parking lot as we entered. We arrived for an afternoon hike. She approached us, started telling us all about her life, where she worked, that she has C.O.P.D because of where she worked.......on and on and on and on. Then she proceeded to tell us that dawn was at 7:15 and that we better have ourselves out of there by then. I said "we'll do out best" and she said "no, you will, our your car will be towed". Following that statement she began explaining how what she said wasn't a threat. For the love of god, can you please just not give the speech to people in their mid 40s that you do to college kids? What a downer she is for that place. Prepare for her if you are headed there.
The first two miles are extremely scenic, very well kept and end with the Cascade, which is so beautiful. If you are going on the next two miles to Barney's Wall, know that it's a different hike. The entire parking lot was full today and we were the only ones that went to the Wall, which we loved. Not sure about the categorization of "beginner" for the second 2 miles. There's a stretch for about 3/4 of a mile where it's straight up hill and pretty brutal. Pretty brutal if you're pushing yourselves like we like to do.
We made the 4.25 hike up to the wall in an hour and 45 minutes. When you get there, it's like the heavens open up and a choir starts singing. It's more of an OH MY GOD moment than we even had at McAfee's Knob. It's completely and totally stunning.
Opposed to the Knob hike, this trip back down is almost completely downhill. We finished it in an hour and 25 minutes.
We spent nearly an hour at the Wall. At McAfee's Knob your photo opportunities are easy and endless. I recommend going there if that's what you're going for. In my opinion, you need to put yourself in pretty serious danger to get the best photo op at Barney's. Just a warning.
4 stars with 1 star removed for the woman at the gate.