“The Knob has a panorama of the Catawba Valley, North Mountain, Tinker Cliffs, and Roanoke Valley.”
— Donovan Fitzgerald
Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This route takes you to what is widely considered one of the most iconic locations on the AT in Virginia.
The journey begins north of the the parking lot where the AT crosses the VA-311. You have two options to ascend to the Knob. This mapped trail takes you up the AT on singletrack. The trail starts out by following the eastern side of the ridge as it moves up in elevation. Within the 1st .25 mile the trail meets a fork whereas if you take a left you'll end up on the McAfee Fire Road
and a right takes you down a little bit and continues on the AT. The AT meanders up the ridge as it passes two shelters, the first being the Johns Spring Shelter and the second being the Catawba Mountain Shelter.
Around the 2.4 mile the AT crosses the McAfee Fire Road
and people taking either route will follow the AT the rest of the way to the Knob. The rest of the way the AT moves over to the western side of the ridge and begins to provide views in the direction of Catawba. You'll pass under transmission lines and head into a section of trail that is lined with large boulders.
You'll reach the knob around the 3.8 mile point and the views and rock formations are amazing. Due to the sites popularity, you're not likely to get to enjoy this location in solitude, but at least someone can take some epic pictures of you and whomever you bring.
After taking some time to allow your legs to rehab, you return the way you came until you reach the point where the AT crosses the Fire Road. A right on the McAfee Fire Road
keeps you on the top of the ridge as it returns you in the direction of the parking lot. Along the Fire Road you'll be treated with fantastic views towards both Salem and Catawba. As you proceed down the road, you'll come to a park sign on the right hand side. Just past this sign on the left you'll find the connection to the AT and the final section that leads to the parking lot. Please be careful crossing VA-311. There are curves leading to the crossing point and the drivers do not have a lot of time to see pedestrians.