I drove down from Charlottesville to meet a couple of members of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, just off of Interstate 81 near where the Appalachian Trail crosses the interstate. The club had scheduled a couple of earlier A.T. mid-week hikes that I had hoped to experience, but the Blue Ridge Parkway had been closed by snow and ice. Looking back, it is amazing that we only had three participants - the hike leader, the RATC President, and me - because subsequent hikes grew in popularity to the point where we ended up with a large number of participants.
|Ed crosses the Little Catawba.|
The water wasn't the only thing sketchy in this part of the hike. The bridges over the Little Catawba looked a lot like a Jenga game ready to tumble! But everything held and we crossed without incident before ascending 1200 feet over the first 3 miles of the hike. Some of the ascent was steep over brief periods, including one section (1.8 miles into the hike) about 350 feet in length that was a 34% incline.
The Andy Layne Trail ends after 3 miles at an elevation of 2567 feet where it meets the Appalachian Trail. This is the highest elevation on this hike. If we headed southbound on the A.T., we would keep climbing up to Tinker Cliffs. On this hike, we turned northbound on the A.T., descending to the Lambert's Meadow Shelter. Just beyond the shelter are some nice campsites along what looks to be a reliable stream, and an intersection with the Brickey's Gap Trail. This blue blazed trail meets up with the A.T. on the other side of Tinker Cliffs, which might be useful for a hiker with bad knees.
From here, we climbed to a ridge that we followed until descending to our cars on U.S. 220. The ridge top was replete with great views on both sides. Views to our left were generally of farm lands, while views to our right took in the Carvins Cove Reservoir, which supplies Roanoke with its drinking water. The most famous local viewpoint is Hay Rock, which is unfortunately marred by graffiti and a large chair. Mike, the RATC President, told us how the club has to spend quite a bit of time and resources trying to keep this rock clean from graffiti.
After passing under some large power lines, we began our descent and reached the cars after 13.3 miles. We parked in a large and crowded park-and-ride lot that was directly on the A.T. when I hiked a small portion of this trail 20 years ago.
Overall, this is a beautiful section of trail, and would be the nice ending to a multi-day hike on the A.T. that includes McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. I would see those landmarks on my next hike.
Hiking Time/Distance Breakdowns:
Andy Layne Trail to Appalachian Trail: 1 hour, 30 minutes. 3.0 miles
My GPS Data:
|PATC Difficulty Factor||295.6|
|Total Altitude Gain||3288||feet|
|Low Point||1152||feet above sea level|
|High Point||2574||feet above sea level|
|Time of Hike||6:20||hours: minutes|