McAfee Knob, VA This airy fin off the AT is worth ev­ery step.

Trips and tips for Amer­ica’s thru-hikes

Backpacker - - CONTENTS -

1 Hike your own hike. AP­PALACHIAN TRAIL, JEF­FER­SON NA­TIONAL FOR­EST, VA

Whether you’re a thru-hiker, a sec­tion-hiker, or a day­hiker, you’re, well, a hiker. Step on the 2,189-mile Ap­palachian Trail if you need a re­minder. The long path winds past no short­age of high­lights, but McAfee Knob is one of the finest. The best way to get there is, of course, along your end-to-end hike, but the 7.6-mile out-and-back from McAfee Pass is a qual­ity al­ter­na­tive. Pick up the AT and fol­low the white blazes east up 3,197-foot Catawba Moun­tain. Break through the green tun­nel near mile 3.3 and con­tinue past boul­ders to the sum­mit. Take a short spur to McAfee Knob, a rocky fin that juts off the moun­tain like a div­ing board above the farm­houses, coun­try lanes, and rolling hills of the Catawba Val­ley. It’s pop­u­lar, so time it for predawn when you’ll only be shar­ing with thru-hik­ers get­ting a jump on the day, says pho­tog­ra­pher Christin Healey. Con­tact fs.usda.gov/gwj

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