McAfee Knob - Appalachian Trail, Virginia
McAfee Knob is a fantastic 8.3 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail. The trailhead is only about fifteen minutes west of Roanoke, Virginia - so it's very popular with local families and college kids. If you don't get there early, you'll have a hard time finding a parking spot and you'll have to share the summit with lots of people.
We got to the trailhead before 9:00 a.m. (the trail is about a two hour drive from where we live) and the lot was already nearly full. Eight miles may sound a bit on the long side for a day hike, but trust me... this trail feels a lot shorter when you're walking it. It's a steady uphill climb with about 1700 feet of elevation gain, but it's over four miles, so the climb feels very gentle and gradual.
McAfee Knob itself is an impressive rock shelf offering sweeping panoramic views of the Catawba Valley. This spot is one of the most recognizable and most photographed spots along the Appalachian Trail. For many Virginians, it's the iconic image of the AT.
The knob was named for James McAfee - a Scots-Irish immigrant who settled in the Catawba Valley in the late 1730's.