We love our dogs, and they love us. Should you hike together? If so, what common sense rules and actual regulations need to be kept in mind?

Should you hike with your dog? “Maybe” is the only accurate answer. We love many people who, for a wide variety of reasons, would not be good hiking companions. Same with dogs. The trail is physically challenging for both dogs and people. Hot weather, cold weather, and other factors can increase the challenge. Some dogs who are perfectly well-behaved at home are very territorial around other dogs and strange people. And then there are all the wonderful strange new sights and smells on the trail. I have seen a leashed dog slip the leash to chase a deer on the trail to McAfee Knob. A hiker was recently injured in Southwest Virginia when her dog decided to chase a bear and she intervened when the bear stood its ground.(Unleashed dogs are more likely to aggravate bears than leashed dogs.)

As with friends and family, just because you love to hike does not mean your dog will enjoy it. So start with shorter walks and work your way up, just as you would do with a person.

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The rules about vehicles on the Appalachian Trail are very clear. You can’t ride a bicycle on it. Nor

can you use a motorized vehicle.

36 CFR 7.100 – Appalachian National Scenic Trail. (a)What activities are prohibited? (1) The use of bicycles, motorcycles or other motor vehicles is prohibited.

The US Forest Service knows this and says so on the website for the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest:

The A.T. is marked with white vertical paint blazes, two-inch by six-inch.  It is a foot trail – travel by horse, bicycle, or motorized vehicles is not allowed.

And according to a more specific order for this national forest, “Vehicles, horses, pack animals’ and bicycles” are prohibited on the A.T. unless there is “a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission.” We have seen no such permit, nor does any closure order we have seen state that Forest Service personnel are authorized to use motorized vehicles on the A.T.

“Violations of these prohibitions are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both. (16 U.S.C. 551, 18 U.S.C 3559 and 3571).”

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Are you tired of partisan bickering? Join us at 10:30 am tomorrow for a bipartisan celebration of the Appalachian Trail at the Pearisburg Community Center in Giles County. Google Earth map link here.

  • State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) and Delegate Joseph Yost (R-Pearisburg) will speak, showing the bipartisan opposition that Mountain Valley has earned due to its disregard for landowners and the environment. Edwards and Yost simultaneously introduced legislation in the 2016 session of the General Assembly to rescind the state’s current survey law.
  • Diana Christopulos, President of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, will recall why we love the Trail and Trail towns like Pearisburg
  • Songwriter Leslie Brooks will provide entertainment, including her new anti-pipeline ballad.
  • Strange Coffee will offer coffee and donuts, with all proceeds donated to the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club!

See you there!  WANT TO DO MORE? SEND A COMMENT TO THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY AUGUST 22. A SAMPLE LETTER AND ALL THE OTHER INFORMATION YOU NEED ARE HERE.

By Jane Rice, Appalachian Trail Conservancy intern

Are you ready to learn new awesome trail building skills? Then the Konnarock volunteer trail crew is perfect for you. No prior experience is necessary, just a desire to help maintain the Appalachian Trail and bond with other volunteers from all around the country. Within the 120 mile stretch of the A.T. near Roanoke, Konnarock has constructed and repaired portions of the A.T. with the help of hundreds of volunteers, but there is always more work to be done. More steps to be added and trails to be widened. Konnarock volunteers learn the significance of trail maintenance out on the A.T., and all the hard work that goes into preserving the land for years to come. Konnarock runs from May 3rd to August 9th with each work week running over the weekend allowing individuals to take minimal work time off during the week. The Appalachian Trail receives around 2 – 3 million visitors every year, but without the hard work of trail volunteers that growing number wouldn’t be possible.

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UPDATE: The National Park Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club have lifted the burn ban on the AT section that includes McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs, and the NPS and ATC have lifted bans previously in effect on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park segments of the AT. Effective December 7, 2016, small camp fires are again permitted in fire grates only at designated locations between Va 624 and Va 652. See our McAfee Knob/Triple Crown page for details on legal locations for camping and campfires, and be safe out there!

UPDATE: December 5, 2016. George Washington & Jefferson National Forest have lifted their fire ban. Please note that FIRE BAN REMAINS IN PLACE FOR NATIONAL PARK LANDS, INCLUDING THE McAFEE KNOB/TINKER CLIFFS SECTION OF THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, between Va 624 and far side of I 81.

UPDATE: 1:15 pm, Thursday, November 17, 2016.. FIRE BAN NOW IN EFFECT ON APPALACHIAN TRAIL FROM SPRINGER MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA TO US 33 IN SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK. See details of the full ban here.

The ban includes the entire “Triple Crown” section of McAfee Knob, Dragon’s Tooth and Tinker Cliffs. NO CAMPFIRES OR OPEN FIRES at shelters, campsites or dispersed campsites. Campers may use their enclosed fuel stoves for cooking.

If you are thinking about camping in the woods and having a fire on federal land in our part of Virginia – think again. A prolonged dry period with almost no rain during the past 43 days means burning and campfires will not be allowed outside of developed camping areas in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest.  “We currently are working to contain two large fires on the Forest that are over 100 acres in size with new fires starting daily,” said Fire Management Officer Andy Pascarella. The fire ban begins Tuesday, November 15, 2016 and will expire Wednesday, February 1, 2017. See the full order here.

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