McAfee Knob, VA This airy fin off the AT is worth every step.
Trips and tips for America’s thru-hikes
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