Roadwork to Temporarily Close Catawba Mountain Fire Road to Hikers

Update: Due to weather delays, work did not begin on January 17 as planned. Work began February 7, and will continue until March 4.

(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.

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On September 30, 2021, officials from Roanoke County, the Virginia Tech Catawba Sustainability Center (CSC), the Roanoke Valley Greenway Commission and other organizations cut the ribbon to open the new Catawba Greenway. Hikers now have two additional parking locations for a McAfee Knob hike and a four-mile loop hike that connects two portions of the Catawba Greenway via the Appalachian Trail.  AT thru hikers can now resupply at the Catawba Post Office without walking down busy State Highway 311 as well.

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Want to show your love of iconic McAfee Knob and support the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club?

McAfee Knob shirts are available in various styles and sizes via this link –  http://www.bonfire.com/store/ratc

Proceeds support the mission of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC) to maintain 120 miles,16 Shelters/Privies and 53 Bridges on the AT from Lickskillet Hollow in Giles County to Black Horse Gap in Botetourt County. This includes Virginia’s Triple Crown, i.e., Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs.

http://www.bonfire.com/store/ratc

Sandra Marra, President & CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy released the following statement, March 23, 2020;

“In these unprecedented times, I am making an unprecedented request: please stay away from the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). Whether your hike is for a couple of hours or a couple of days, staying away from the Trail minimizes the spread or contraction of COVID-19.

In a time when social distancing is necessary to minimize the spread and contraction of a dangerous virus, many have escaped to nature seeking isolation and unpopulated spaces. On the A.T., however, what they’ve found are trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, day hikers using picnic tables and privies, and group trips continuing as planned. Popular spots along the Trail like Blood Mountain in Georgia, the McAfee Knob area in Virginia, and Annapolis Rocks in Maryland have seen day use reach record-breaking levels. Cars line the highways leading to popular day-hiking spots on the Trail. Hiking the A.T. has become, in other words, the opposite of social distancing.

The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club is looking for new volunteers to protect McAfee Knob and Dragons Tooth as Volunteer Ridgerunners. The final Training Day of 2019 will be Saturday, September 7 from 9 am to 4 pm. Please email Kathryn Herndon-Powell or call her at 540-904-4316 to attend.

Volunteer Ridgerunners engage hikers in friendly conversations about the natural and cultural significance of this area and tips on best practices for enjoying the Trail safely and responsibly. They report on trail conditions and perform light trail maintenance to prevent small problems from getting worse–like dismantling illegal fire rings, packing out trash, and blocking social trails to discourage shortcutting. In 2018, 38 Volunteer Ridgerunners logged 1,125 volunteer hours, spoke with over 18,000 visitors and removed 570 gallons of litter!

If you want to join this lively group of dedicated stewards, you must:

–> Join the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club ($20/year)
–> Join the McAfee Knob Task Force Meetup group (free)
–> Commit to volunteer at least one weekend day per month (Fri/Sat/Sun), April through November
–> Attend a Training Day
–> Join an Orientation Hike

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The volunteers of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club wish everyone  a joyful holiday season! As part of the celebrations, RATC has added a new t-shirt to its store, honoring our section’s famed Triple Crown – Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. It can be ordered directly from the RATC store using this link and it comes in both red and green.

The back of the t-shirt, designed by RATC board member Chris Means, features the slogan, “Easy on the Eyes, Hard on the Thighs”  and photos of Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. The front has the RATC logo, designed by long-time RATC member Zetta Campbell. It features a hiker on McAfee Knob and the year of the RATC’s founding – 1932.

This is a great gift for anyone who has hiked the section or just loves the AT, and earnings go directly to the all-volunteer RATC, which maintains and protects over 120 miles of the AT in southwestern and central Virginia. We are one of 31 maintaining clubs along the AT and must earn all of our own funding.

The store continues to offer regular RATC t-shirts and hats in several designs as well through our partners at Press Press Merch.

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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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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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SIGN UP FOR NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, HERE.

What do McAfee Knob, Saguaro National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore and Linville Gorge have in common? All are among the twelve national Leave No Trace Hot Spots for 2015. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and its Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers team are partnering with the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club and Appalachian Trail Conservancy to host community events and educational activities September 24-28, 2015.

The Hot Spot Program, a key component of the Leave No Trace in Every Park initiative, raises community awareness and brings solutions to popular natural areas around the country facing heavy recreational use and consequently, the threat of harm to trails, parks and open space areas. The Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers travel throughout the country providing public education about how to reduce impacts in the outdoors.

“The cumulative impact of so many people enjoying a great viewpoint such as McAfee Knob can have negative effects,” according to Stephanie Whatton, Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer. “In most cases, the land impact isn’t due to a malicious intent to harm nature and wildlife. Instead, it’s simply lack of Leave No Trace education and practices.”

The following Leave No Trace events are free and open to the public:

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LNT Sept 26

McAfee Knob was already popular, but its starring role in the new film, “A Walk in the Woods,” is bringing an unprecedented number of visitors. You can help keep the AT from being loved to death!

On Saturday, September 26 2015 the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club invites everyone who loves the A.T. around McAfee Knob, Dragon’s Tooth and Tinker Cliffs to pitch in and help keep it beautiful!

Why September 26? It’s National Public Lands Day! But that’s not the only reason.Read more »