Roadwork to Temporarily Close Catawba Mountain Fire Road to Hikers

(Roanoke, VA). Roadwork to improve the Catawba Mountain Fire Road for emergency vehicle use will require the road to be temporarily closed to hikers and all public use beginning Monday, January 17 through February 11. During this road closure, hikers will continue to be able to use the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to access McAfee Knob and beyond. This roadwork is weather-dependent and is being performed during the winter season to minimize disruption to hikers.

The Fire Road runs parallel to the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) northerly from the Trailhead Parking Area on VA-311, located approximately 10 miles north of Salem, VA. It is commonly used by hikers and walkers as a loop with the A.T. The Fire Road provides
important access for high-clearance emergency service vehicles responding to calls for hikers in distress, forest fires, and other incidents on National Park Service lands around the popular and well-known McAfee Knob viewpoint and trail feature. Lack of maintenance and several serious rain events in recent years have resulted in erosion and deterioration of the roadbed. This roadwork, using heavy equipment, will improve water drainage and the road surface on several deteriorated road sections.

Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club volunteers will oversee this contract equipment roadwork and be on site to advise hikers about the work. The equipment contract is funded with a grant from the Virginia A.T. Specialty License Plate program, RATC club funds and volunteer contributions.

For additional information, visit: www.RATC.org, or the RATC Facebook page; or www.appalachiantrail.org, or the ATC Facebook page.

Jim Beeson with his touring bike at the Pacific Ocean

So, at the last Hiker Happy Hour, several people asked about our former President Jim Beeson’s next adventure. For those of you who don’t know, Jim is starting a new long distance adventure. He and two friends are traveling by bicycle from the Pacific Ocean across country to the Atlantic Ocean via a route called the Southern Tier.

If you’d like to follow along on Jim’s adventure, he is keeping an online journal. You can read it at www.trailjournals.com/southerntier . The journal defaults to his latest entry. If you’d like to start from the beginning, you can either click “First” in the menu choices above the date in his journal entry, or click this link: https://www.trailjournals.com/journal/entry/632324 .

Also, for those of you wondering, “What’s this about Hiker Happy Hour?” We meet on the third Wednesday of the month at Olde Salem Brewery for a couple hours after work. Check the listings in our Meetup group for the next Hiker Happy Hour!

The Appalachian Trail is again open between Pine Swamp Shelter to Clendenin Road effective 4/15/2021.

The power line tower structure has been repaired, but MANY trees remain down in the area. Work continues to remove and clear debris.

Map showing affected area of the Trail
Affected area between Pine Swamp Shelter (North) and Clendenin Rd (South)