RATC’s 14 AT Hikes

The fourteen hikes listed here, shown from the northern end of the RATC’s AT section running south along the trail, include all  120+ miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) maintains. Beginning at Black Horse Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP),  the RATC section concludes at VA 611, south of Jenny Knob. The hikes are shown as day hikes and sometimes include trails (such as the Andy Layne Trail near Tinker Cliffs) that are not part of the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Click on the “Hike” link on the left side of the title to go to the description of the hike below. The description of each hike includes driving directions to the trailhead from Roanoke and, when feasible, links to Google maps driving directions.

Appalachian Trail Hikes

Hike
Northern Point (off highway / road xxx)
to
Southern Point (off highway / road xxx)
Length (miles) Difficulty
Hike 1: Black Horse Gap (BRP) to Curry Gap (BRP) 6.9 Moderate
Hike 2: Curry Gap (BRP) to Daleville (US 220) 9.4 Strenuous
Hike 3: Daleville (US 220) to Andy Layne Trail (VA 779 / Catawba Road) 13 Strenuous
Hike 4: Andy Layne Trail (VA 779 / Catawba Road) to Catawba Mountain (VA 311) 11.5 Strenuous
Hike 5: Catawba Mountain (VA 311) to Dragon’s Tooth Parking 8.9 Strenuous
Hike 6: Trout Creek (VA 620 / Miller Cove Road) to Dragon Tooth Parking 7 Moderate
Hike 7: Lee Hollow (VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road) to Trout Creek (VA 620 / Miller Cove Road) 7.6 Moderate
Hike 8: Sinking Creek (VA 630 / Northside Road) to Lee Hollow (VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road) 10.4 Strenuous
Hike 9: Johns Creek (VA 632 / Johns Creek Road) to Sinking Creek (VA 630 / Northside Road) 8.3 Strenuous
Hike 10: Pine Swamp (VA 635 / Big Stony Creek Road) to Johns Creek (VA 632 / Johns Creek Road) 13.2 Strenuous
Hike 11: Big Horse Gap to New River (US 460) 12.5 Strenuous
Hike 12: Ribble Trail / AT Loop 9.9 Strenuous
Hike 13: Ribble Trail to Kimberling Creek (VA 606) 5.5 Moderate
Hike 14: Kimberling Creek (VA 606) to Jenny Knob (VA 611) 9.3 Strenuous

Hike 1

Black Horse Gap (BRP) to Curry Gap (BRP) 6.9 miles Moderate

This hike is located in Botetourt County. From Black Horse Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway, elevation 2,400 feet, the trail heads south with limited views. In 2.4 miles a blue blaze trail on right leads to the Wilson Creek Shelter. After crossing Wilson Creek, the trail ascends steeply. It then descends steadily and crosses Curry Creek. From there it ascends steeply on switchbacks to the Salt Pond Road road crossing. Go left on Salt Pond Road for 0.9 miles back to the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP).

Directions to northern trailhead:
From Roanoke: From I-81, exit 150A, go 4.8 miles south on US 220. Turn left on US 460. Go 3 miles to the BRP. Make sharp right to go north on the BRP for 10 miles to Black Horse Gap (BRP milepost (MP) 97.7). There is a small parking area on right.
blackhorse-gap
Click here for Google Maps directions to Black Horse Gap parking.

Directions to southern trailhead:
From Roanoke: From I-81, exit 150A, go 4.8 miles south on US 220. Turn left on US 460. Go 3 miles to the BRP. Make sharp right to go north on the BRP for 4.5 miles to Curry Gap (Salt Pond Rd). There is a small parking area on right.
curray-gap
Click here for Google Maps directions to Curry Gap parking.


Hike 2

Curry Gap (BRP) to Daleville (US 220) 9.4 miles Strenuous

The hike is located in Botetourt County From Curry Gap on the BRP, the trail ascends on Salt Pond Road for 0.9 miles to the AT crossing. Go left on the AT (south). The trail follows the ridge line, with limited views to the valley below. At 3.7 miles the blue-blazed trail on left leads to Fullhardt Knob Shelter and the wooded summit of Fullhardt Knob. The trail then descends from Fullhardt Knob. There are a series of switchbacks near the bottom. At 6.7 miles the trail crosses Mountain Pass Road (VA 652). It then ascends an open knoll, with good views of McAfee Knob and Tinker Mountain, before descending and crossing US 11. The trail continues through mainly old orchards to US 220.

Directions to northern trailhead: 
From Roanoke: From I-81, exit 150A and go 4.8 miles south on US 220. Turn left on US 460. Go 3 miles to the BRP. Make sharp right to go north on the BRP for 4.5 miles  to small parking area on right at Curry Gap (Salt Pond Road).
curray-gap
Click here for Google Maps directions to Curry Gap parking.

Directions to southern trailhead: 
The southern trailhead parking is the Daleville Park and Ride lot off I-81 exit 150B. From I-81, exit at 150B and turn right to US 220. Take US 220 north for about 0.5 miles and then turn left on Tinker Mountain Road (before the Exxon station). The Park and Ride is immediately on the left. There is additional parking in a dirt area on the right.
daleville
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Daleville Park and Ride area parking.


Hike 3

Daleville (US 220 ) to Andy Layne Trail (VA 779 / Catawba Road) 13 miles Strenuous

The hike is just north of Roanoke, starting in Daleville and ending in the Catawba Valley; it is strenuous whether hiked from north to south or south to north. Starting from the Park and Ride off Exit 150B of I-81 on US 220 near Daleville, follow the spur trail for 0.5 miles to pick up the AT.  Cross a concrete bridge over Tinker Creek at 2.5 miles. Steep climb up Tinker Mountain is completed at 4.1 miles. The ridge walk brings some good views and passes under large power lines before reaching Hay Rock at 6.1 miles. Hay Rock is a massive fragment of tilted sandstone that forms the backbone of Tinker Ridge; a climb to the top provides fine views. The trail then runs along the ridge of Tinker Mountain with views to the left of Carvins Cove Reservoir, a huge conservation easement owned by the City of Roanoke. Cross Lamberts Meadow Spring (usually reliable water source – always treat water!)) and reach Lamberts Meadow Shelter at 9.5 miles. Ascend steeply to Scorched Earth Gap and intersect the Andy Lane Trail at 10 miles. Turn right onto the Andy Lane Trail (not part of the AT) and descend steeply to the parking area.

Directions to northern trailhead (Daleville Park and Ride):
The northern trailhead parking is the Daleville Park and Ride lot off I-81 exit 150B. From I-81, exit at 150B and turn right to US 220. Take US 220 north for about 0.5 miles and then turn left on Tinker Mountain Road (before the Exxon station). The Park and Ride is immediately on the left. There is additional parking in a dirt area on the right.
daleville
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Daleville Park and Ride area parking.

Directions to southern trailhead (Andy Layne Trail): 
(From Roanoke) From I-81, exit 150B and turn right to US 220. Go north on US 220 for 1.75 miles. Turn left on VA 779 / Catawba Road. Go 7.6 miles. The gravel parking lot is on left. The trailhead comes off the back of the parking lot.
andy-layne
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Andy Layne Trail parking.


Hike 4

Catawba Mountain (VA 311) to Andy Layne Trail (VA 779 / Catawba Road) 11.5 miles Strenuous

Please see the tab titled “McAfee Knob and the Triple Crown” for more information about this very heavily-traveled section of the AT. Camping and campfires are highly restricted in this area. Parking can be very difficult on weekends between April and November. Early morning hikes are advised. This hike is described from south to north, offering the possibility of getting a shuttle and leaving vehicles at the small parking lot on the northern end.

This hike offers the opportunity to see two of the prime vistas on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, in one day. The hike starts across from the large gravel AT crossing parking lot on VA 311. Be extremely careful crossing VA 311, visibility for cars is limited and they are moving very fast. The trail climbs gradually to McAfee’s Knob, passing John’s Spring Shelter at 1 mile and Catawba Mountain shelter at 3 miles. At 3.7 miles you’ll reach a short blue-blazed trail on left to McAfee Knob. The cliffs there offer magnificent views of the Catawba Valley and the city of Roanoke. The trail then follows the the ridge line to Tinker Cliffs at 8.6 miles, with views of McAfee Knob and North Mountain. Continue north on the AT for another half mile to Scorched Earth Gap. Go left on the Andy Layne Trail for descent to VA 779 / Catawba Road.

Directions to northern trailhead (Andy Layne Trail):
From Roanoke: From I-81, exit 150B and go right to US 220, go north on US 220 for 1.75 miles. Turn left on VA 779 / Catawba Road. Go 7.6 miles. Gravel parking lot for trail head is on left.

From the McAfee Knob parking area: To reach Andy Layne trail head parking lot to drop off shuttle car, turn left out of VA 311 parking lot and continue north on VA 311 for 1.4 miles Take right on VA 779 / Catawba Road and drive 8.3 miles to trail head gravel parking lot on right, just past bridge.

andy-layne
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Andy Layne Trail parking.

Directions to southern trailhead:
From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 141. Go left on VA 419 / Electric Road. Go 0.4 miles to VA 311. Take right and go 5.6 miles to AT access parking lot on left at top of Catawba Mountain. 

mcafee-knob
If using Google maps, always use “McAfee Knob parking area” as the search term; other terms may take you to completely different locations.

Click here for Google map directions to McAfee Knob parking area.


Hike 5

Catawba Mountain (VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive) to Dragon’s Tooth Parking 8.9 miles Strenuous

The hike begins at the VA 311 AT parking lot just 15 minutes from Roanoke. The AT is followed south over the many humps of Catawba Mountain before dropping down to the open fields of Beckner’s Gap. Between VA 785 / Catawba Road and VA 624 / Newport Road, the trail crosses Sandstone Ridge. Beyond VA 624 / Newport Road, the trail heads uphill past the Boy Scout Trail. It then reaches Rawie’s Rest, a knife-like rocky outcrop, with good views. Continue on to Lost Spectacles Gap, where a blue-blazed trail on right leads down to the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot.

Directions to northern trailhead:
From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 141. Go left on VA 419 / Electric Road. Go 0.4 miles to VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive. Take right and go 5.6 miles to AT access parking lot on left at top of Catawba Mountain. 

mcafee-knob
If using Google maps, always use “McAfee Knob parking area” as the search term; other terms may take you to completely different locations.

Click here for Google map directions to McAfee Knob parking area.

Directions to southern trailhead: 
From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 141. Go left on VA 419 / Electric Road. Go 0.4 miles to VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive. Take right. In 4.6 miles, pass McAfee Knob trailhead parking lot on left at top of Catawba Mountain. To reach Dragon’s Tooth parking lot, continue on VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive for another 3.5 miles to US Forest Service (USFS) Dragon’s Tooth parking lot on left, just after the intersection of VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive and VA 624 / Newport Road (gas station and convenience store on the left). 

dragons-tooth
If using Google maps, always using “Dragon’s Tooth parking area” as the search term; other terms may take you to completely different locations.

Click here for Google map directions to Dragon’s Tooth parking area.


Hike 6

Dragon Tooth Parking to Trout Creek (VA 620 / Miller Cove Road) 7 miles Moderate

Note: this hike is described from south to north because the RATC usually hikes it in that direction; the shuttle is much more convenient.

The hike is in Craig and Roanoke County west of Salem. After crossing Trout Creek, it ascends steeply through a fire recovery area, passing by the Pickle Branch Shelter at 1 mile. It then continues ascent to the ridge, and then goes around the crescent-shaped top of Cove Mountain to the blue blazed trail to Dragon’s Tooth on right. There are great views and rock-scrambling opportunities on Dragon’s Tooth. The trail descends on the AT to Lost Spectacles Gap, where a blue-blazed trail on left leads down to the Dragon’s Tooth parking lot.

Directions to northern trailhead:
From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 141. Go left on VA 419 / Electric Road. Go 0.4 miles to VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive. Take right. In 4.6 miles, pass McAfee Knob trailhead parking lot on left at top of Catawba Mountain. To reach Dragon’s Tooth parking lot, continue on VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive for another 3.5 miles to USFS Dragon’s Tooth parking lot on left, just after the intersection of VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive and VA 624 / Newport Road (gas station and convenience store on the left). 

dragons-tooth
If using Google maps, always using “Dragon’s Tooth parking area” as the search term; other terms may take you to completely different locations.

Click here for Google map directions to Dragon’s Tooth parking area.

Directions to southern trailhead: 
From Roanoke: Follow directions above to Dragon’s Tooth parking area. Proceed another 4.1 miles on VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive and turn left on VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road.  Drive 2.8 miles on VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road to VA 620 / Miller Cove Road. Turn left on VA 620 / Miller Cove Road and drive 1.1 miles to Trout Creek parking area.

trout-creek
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Trout Creek parking area.


Hike 7

Lee Hollow (VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road) to Trout Creek (VA 620 / Braddock Road) 7.6 miles Moderate

Located in Craig and a little bit of Roanoke County, the hike on Brush Mt. includes the Audie Murphy Monument, a tribute to the most decorated soldier of WWII, who died in a plane crash on the mountain in 1971. The hike starts with a 1,000 foot ascent of Brush Mountain via a series of switchbacks. At 3 miles the top of the mountain is reached and the trail continues along the crest of the mountain. At 3.8 miles, a short blue-blazed trail on left leads to the monument. There are good views of the Craig Creek Valley from here. At 5.9 miles the trail starts a steep descent to Trout Creek and VA 620 / Braddock Road.

Directions to both trailheads: 
From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 141. Go left on VA 419 / Electric Road. Go 0.4 miles to VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive. Take right and go 12.0 miles to VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road. Go 5.5 miles on Route 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road. The AT crossing parking lot is on right.
lee-hollow
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Lee Hollow AT crossing parking area.

Trout Creek parking area can be reached by making left onto VA 620 / Braddock Road from VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road at 2.8 miles. Drive 1.1 miles to Trout Creek parking area. Drop off shuttle car there.

trout-creek
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Trout Creek parking area.


Hike 8

Sinking Creek (VA 630 / Northside Road) to Lee Hollow (VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road) 10.4 miles Strenuous

Located in Craig County, the hike climbs up Sinking Creek Mountain, then follows the ridge where rock piles and old apple trees remain from the days when even the top of the mountain was farmed. Several slanted rocks offer views of Craig Creek Valley and the mountains beyond. The hike starts with a 1,200′ ascent of Sinking Creek Mountain. At 0.5 miles the trail passes the giant Keffer Oak, a very large historic tree. At 1.9 miles the ridge line of the mountain is reached. Most of the rest of the hike is along the crest of the mountain, with views of Craig Creek Valley to the right. At 9.5 miles pass the Niday Shelter and continue descent on trail to VA 621.

Directions to both trailheads:
From Roanoke. Take I-81 south to exit 141. Go left on VA 419 / Electric Road. Go 0.4 miles to VA 311 / Catawba Valley Drive. Take right and go 12.0 miles to VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road. Turn left and go 5.5 miles on VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road. The AT crossing parking lot is on right. Drop off shuttle car here.

lee-hollow
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Lee Hollow AT crossing parking area.

Continue on VA 621 / Upper Craigs Creek Road for an additional 11 miles to US 460. Go right and drive 2 miles to VA 42 / Blue Grass Trail. Go right and drive 6 miles to VA 629. Turn right and drive 0.6 miles to VA 630 / Northside Road. Turn right and drive 0.3 mile to parking area on left.

sinking-creek
Click here for Google Maps directions to the Sinking Creek parking area.


Hike 9

Johns Creek (VA 632 / Johns Creek Road) to Sinking Creek (VA 630 / Northside Road) 8.3 miles Strenuous

The hike is located in Craig and Giles counties.

From Johns Creek Valley, the trail climbs steeply. At 2 miles it crosses route 601 at Rocky Gap. At 3.8 miles a blue blazed trail on right leads to White Rock, with great views of the New River Valley. The trail then descends, passing Laurel Creek Shelter at 5.1 miles. At 7.5 miles the trail crosses Route 42 in Sinking Creek Valley.

From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 118B (Blacksburg). Stay on US 460 for 17.9 miles (it turns into Pandapas Pond Road and then Virginia Avenue) to VA 42 / Blue Grass Trail. Go right and drive 8 miles to VA 658 / Old Glade Trail. Go left and drive 4.0 miles to VA 632 / Johns Creek Road. Go left for 5.5 miles to the AT crossing parking area on left. For car drop off, see directions to the parking area off VA 630 / Northside Road in hike #8 above.


Hike 10

Pine Swamp (VA 635 / Big Stony Creek Road) to Johns Creek (VA 632 / Johns Creek Road) 13.2 miles Strenuous

The hike is located in Giles County.

From Stony Creek Valley the trail climbs 1,100 feet in one mile to the heavily wooded northern slope of Big Mountain. It passes the Bailey Gap Shelter at 3.6 miles. The trail then winds through the 11,172-acre Mountain Lake Wilderness. At 7.6 miles it passes Wind Rock on Potts Mountain, which provides the best view point of the hike. The trail passes War Spur Shelter at 12.4 miles.

From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 118B (Blacksburg). Stay on US 460 for 28.9 miles (it turns into Pandapas Pond Road and then Virginia Avenue and on) to VA 635 / Big Stony Creek Road. Go right and drive 7 miles to the AT access parking area on left. To reach car drop point on VA 632 / Johns Creek Road, see directions in hike #9 above.


Hike 11

Big Horse Gap to New River (US 460) 12.5 miles Strenuous

This hike follows the AT north from Big Horse Gap near Dismal Falls in Giles County. It goes along the ridge line of Pearis Mountain. At 3.0 miles there is a rock cliff which provides good views of Sugar Run Mountain. The trail passes Doc’s Knob Shelter at 3.8 miles. At 9.0 miles there is another cliff, which provides good views of Wilburn Valley. Angel’s Rest is reached at 9.6 miles. This provides great views of the New River Valley and Peters Mountain. From there the trail begins a steady descent to Route 460.

From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 118B (Blacksburg). Stay on US 460 (it turns into Pandapas Pond Road and then Virginia Avenue and on) for 33.0 miles to VA 100 / S Main Street (Perrisburg) (Note: drop off shuttle car on parking lot on left on US 460, just prior to bridge over New River, and make left turn back to VA 100 / S Main Street exit). Go south on VA 100 / S Main Street and drive 5 miles to VA 663 / Sugar Run Road. Make right and drive 8.8 miles to the AT crossing. VA 663 / Sugar Run Road becomes a steep, gravel road when it enter the National Forest. There is a small parking area on the left just prior to the AT crossing.


Hike 12

Ribble Trail / AT Loop 9.9 miles Strenuous

Located in Giles County, this hike follows Dismal Creek before a starting a steep climb up Sugar Run Mountain. The hike then follows the ridge line for several miles, offering views of the Wilburn and New River Valleys. The hike starts on the Ribble Trail for .4 miles to the AT. At the AT intersection, turn left (north). The trail crosses dismal Creek on footbridges several times in the next mile. At 1.9 miles the trail passes the Wapiti Shelter and then begins ascending Sugar Run Mountain. At 4.3 miles a rock outcrop provides excellent views of the valley below. At 6.5 miles, reach northern end of blue-blazed Ribble Trail. Make left onto the Ribble Trail and begin steep descent of the Ribble Trail, passing the old Honey Springs Cabin. The trail will cross FS 201 several times before reaching the parking area at 9.9 miles, where car is located.

From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 98. Go right onto VA 100 / Clebourne Road (it becomes Pulaski Giles Turnpike) and go 11.7 miles to VA 42. Go left and drive 10.3 miles to Route 606. Make right on to VA 606 and go 1.3 miles. Make right on VA 201. This will become a Forest Service road. Continue for 5 miles on FS 201 to Ribble Trail parking area on right. (Note: parking area is located where road makes sharp left turn and begins to climb Sugar Run Mountain.


Hike 13

Ribble Trail to Kimberling Creek (VA 606) 5.5 miles Moderate

Located in Giles County, this hike follows Dismal Creek for several miles. Much of the trail is lined with rhododendron. At 3.9 miles, blue-blazed trail on right goes 0.3 miles to Dismal Falls. This part of the creek is very scenic. The hike ends at VA 606 and Kimberling Creek. The AT goes over the creek on a footbridge.

From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 98. Go right onto VA 100 / Clebourne Road (it becomes Pulaski Giles Turnpike) and go 11.7 miles to VA 42. Go left and drive 10.3 miles to VA 606. Make right turn. You will reach AT crossing in 0.3 miles. Leave shuttle car there. Continue on VA 606 for an additional 1 mile. Make right on VA 201. This will become a Forest Service road. Continue for 5 miles on FS 201 to Ribble Trail parking area on right. (Note: parking area is located where road makes sharp left turn and begins to climb Sugar Run Mountain).


Hike 14

Kimberling Creek (Rt. 606) to Jenny Knob (Rt.611) 9.3 miles Strenuous

The trail starts by crossing Kimberling Creek on a suspension footbridge. This is one of the longest footbridges on the AT. The trail then ascends steeply to the wooded summit of Brushy Mountain, before descending to Lickskillet Hollow. It then crosses VA 608 and again ascends Brushy Mountain. It passes Jenny Knob Shelter before reaching VA 611, the southern terminus of the section of the AT maintained by the RATC.

From Roanoke: Take I-81 south to exit 98. Go right onto VA 100 / Clebourne Road (it becomes Pulaski Giles Turnpike) and go 11.7 miles to VA 42. Go left and drive 18 miles to VA 611. This is a steep, gravel road. Make right turn. You will reach AT crossing in 1.7 miles. Leave shuttle car there. Drive back to VA 42 and go north for 8 miles to VA 606. Make left. The AT crossing is in 0.3 miles.