McAfee Knob via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 649 reviews

McAfee Knob via Appalachian Trail is a 7.6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Salem, Virginia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,591 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

This is a slow and steady climb to the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. Base elevation is the elevation given at the parking area, 2,000'. The peak at McAfee Knob is 3,171', giving it some of the best views in the state. Please leave no trace and be mindful of trash! This trail sees a large number of traffic and has been having problems with rising trash, illegal camping and misuse of the area. The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains this section of trail and volunteers regularly pack out trash and maintain campsites to keep it beautiful. Park rules and regulations are enforced: -Maximum group size, day hikes: 25 -Maximum group size, backpacking/camping: 10 -No alcohol -Dogs must be kept on leash at all times -No camping or campfires outside of 7 designated areas (north of VA 624/Newport Rd, the only legal campsites are Johns Spring Shelter, Catawba Shelter and campsites, Pig Farm campsite, Campbell Shelter and Lambert’s Meadow Shelter and campsites) -No camping or campfires on McAfee Knob or Tinker Cliffs

14 minutes ago

Did this with my daughter on my back. She weighs 34 lbs so it was a little more difficult. the trail is rocky at times. very steady incline untill you cross the fire road towards the end. this is where the trail begins to be more of an incline. i believe this is where most of the challenge is. the air gets thinner a little bit. the scenery at this point is amazing. once you get to the top there are multiple ledges to grab a great view from. on the way back if you take the fire road it is much simpler and easy. very wide path and still some great scenery. not to crowded if you hit it in the early am.

5 days ago

Nice trail, well maintained, and nice views at the top. It was a bit crowded with multi-day hikers, experienced Day hikers, and tourists who don’t hike regularly. I was a little disappointed with the “iconic” aspect of this view — for me it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

hiking
12 days ago

I have hiked the trail numerous times, there is more to Mcafee's knob than the ledge. Hell's kitchen is fun to wonder around, and if you follow through hell's kitchen to the power line, there is a pointed rock that is fun to climb at the power line clearing. I spent more time away from the overhang and enjoy what's around the whole area.

hiking
25 days ago

Excellent hike! I was initially intimidated but pleasantly surprised with the level of ease I was able to do this. Straight up, straight down. The weather was lovely (low 80s) and all of the other hikers were very friendly. The overlook is completely worth the hike.

27 days ago

Heavily traveled, iconic photo spot. Parking can be difficult. If you want an easier option, hike up the trail and down the fire road. I have done this on sunset hikes.

29 days ago

We got out by 7am to beat the crowd. Great hike but kinda did it in reverse taking the fire trail up and came back all the way on the AT. The view is worth the hike which I rate as moderate, not hard. Amazing view!

hiking
1 month ago

It was awesome view up there. trail was not that hard. you can finish in around 4 hours if you are doing hiking once in a month or 2.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely breathtaking

hiking
1 month ago

Nice little hike with my brothers during a family reunion in Salem in June 2015. Great weather and view in addition to a little geocaching.

Incredible view at the top. Parking lot fills up quickly. Make sure to bring water, theres not any along the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Fantastic hike and awesome view! Quite heavily trafficked (crowded) on a Friday. Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club member staffed the parking lot with trail info and water.

hiking
1 month ago

Very nice trail, marked well, an easy hike for an avid hiker with slow uphill gain.

hiking
2 months ago

I know this is the hike everyone in VA talks about, and rightfully so, but they are far better hikes in Virginia. The view is great, but the reason people love this hike is so they can sit on the edge of the overhanging rock and get a picture, plain and simple. The hike to the overlook is not very strenuous or entertaining. It’s easy to moderate and rather boring. This is a good trail, but not up to the hype that preceded it.

For a hike of similar length, Old Rag Mountain is superior. Fun hike with a mixture of a wooded trail and lots of rock scrambling. Panoramic views.

A shorter hike to mention is Sharp Top Mountain which also has panoramic views and a more strenuous hike than Mcafee at half the distance.

2 months ago

Beautiful hike but challenging. Loved the view on top but saw two rattlesnakes on the way down that spoiled the day.

hiking
2 months ago

After a brief, steep climb, the trail goes up and down for a bit before the real climbing begins. Though not steep, there are enough rocks and roots on the path to keep things interesting. Around mile 4 you will pass some huge boulders. After another half-mile or so you reach the exposed cliffs and the iconic photo spot. Take a lot of pictures, eat lunch, then retrace you steps back to the parking lot. We hiked on a Wednesday and the trail wasn't too crowded (we saw an equal amount of AT hikers and day hikers).

hiking
2 months ago

Great view at the top, but the hike is nothing to write home about

2 months ago

Awesome hiking after a week rain in southern Virginia, we saw many wild flowers and animals on our way, including snake, newt, and deers.

awesome hike ,pretty moderate till the end ,take the fire road down at the end to get back faster, great workout

hiking
3 months ago

Well worth the walk. Beautiful!

hiking
3 months ago

Pretty heavily trafficked but the view is worth it. I'd recommend following the Appalachian trail as it's more interesting however there is a fire access road that's level and a gentle accent most the way up (I ran down this but wished I'd gone back down the trail). Once you reach the top there is another 0.3miles or so that you can walk along and go off track, definitely suggest doing this!

3 months ago

It can get buggy at the top if there is no wind. But beautiful view.

backpacking
3 months ago

Hiked 12.1 miles to McAfee Knob from Dragons Tooth. Beautiful views all along this section. Totally worth the effort up to the knob.

3 months ago

One of my all time favorites, though it seems like it is everyone else's too. It was pretty crowed.

3 months ago

Walk another half mile past the knob and enjoy traversing the rock maze.

3 months ago

Hiked this trail while I was in college and again last year. Plan on going back this weekend. I go up the AT trail and back down the fire road. The trail up can be strenuous depending on how hard you push yourself but it’s not too terrible if your in decent shape and the view at the top on a clear day is definitely worth it. Can get busy on weekends though especially with people taking pictures at the top. As someone else said if you walk just a little further around a slight bend once you get to the top there are more spectacular views and it’s typically less crowded

hiking
3 months ago

A very well maintained trail to one of the most photographed spots on the AT. If you know the night is clear & can pull yourself out of bed, wake up early & do this as a sunrise hike. A 270 degree view facing east makes it absolutely stunning. There’s a fire road to make the hike easier if you want which many do when hiking at night for the sunrise.

hiking
3 months ago

We took the AT to the overlook and then the Fire Road back down (as shown on the map.)
My friend was carrying 45-50lbs and I had 30-35lbs. This hike was brutal and we hike almost every weekend.
We finished the hike in less than five hours - but expect to take some breaks and allow plenty of time to enjoy the overlook! Also, everyone seems to congregate at the first part of the overlook. If you keep going, it’s much quieter and the views are spectacular!
We are training so we needed the brutal workout - but otherwise - take the Fire Road. There’s not much you’ll miss on the AT other than stone/wood/rock steps, steep inclines and descents, and sore calves that will stay with you for days. The views on the way are nothing short of amazing and the view from the top definitely makes it worth it!!!

4 months ago

Views completely worth the work! The uphills on the way back were just cruel. Followed it up with a trip to Deschutes.

hiking
4 months ago

We took the AT to the knob and the fire road on the way back. We started early, so there was plenty of parking and few people on the trail. By the time we made our way back, it was significantly busier. This is a tough trek and absolutely worth it.

4 months ago

My first visit but definitely not my last. We took the fire road to McAfee Knob. It was a lot easier I understand. My girlfriend, who has MS, completed this hike. Took us about 6 hours 11 minutes with stops for picture taking. I also took my dogs, a shihpoo & a boxer.

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