|Climbing from the parking lot on Rt. 311|
It is hard to imagine another section of trail that the RATC covers that could be more spectacular than this hike. In fact, I haven't found any section of trail anywhere in Virginia more scenic than this one. While everyone seems to say that Mt. Rogers is the best hiking in Virginia, I think McAfee's Knob and Tinker's Cliffs are the best. In fact, Virginia has a rendering of McAfee Knob on its A.T. license plate.
It is said that McAfee Knob is the single most photographed spot on the A.T., and I can see why. It is really a breathtaking spot.
This is also a very popular hike, and, though we didn't see many folks on the day we hiked, the wear on the trail was evident. A Tuesday in mid-February is a good time to see the sights without encountering many folks.
We left the large parking lot on Route 311 at 9:12 AM, and 27 minutes later passed the first of three A.T. shelters we would see on this short section of trail, the John's Spring Shelter. Mike told me about the RATC's problem a couple of years back with a young fellow from Lexington who liked this area so much he basically moved in on weekends and kept his tent up when he was back home. They had to drag his tent and all of his stuff back to the parking lot, including quite a bit of electronics.
|Normal clouds look spectacular here. |
The ridge to the left of the rock was our route towards Tinker Cliffs.
|At McAfee, with North Mountain in the background.|
We projected to have a long hike, so we only stayed here for 10 minutes. And my colleagues told me that the view from Tinker Cliffs is actually better! So I was anxious to see what was next.
We took a short detour through a spot with large rocks called Devil's Kitchen before dropping to the Campbell Shelter at just under 5 miles. We snacked briefly here, and snacked again at a rocky spot with a nice view to the east at the 7.25 mile mark. At 8 miles we dipped to meet the Brickley Gap Trail, which bypasses Tinker Cliffs in favor of a straight shot to the Lambert's Meadow Shelter with little of the elevation gain climbing to Tinker.
|The trail sometimes hugs the edge of the cliffs.|
|Another tourist photo!|
|Hiking along the cliffs' edge.|
|The view southeast from Tinker Cliffs. |
McAfee Knob is the highest point on the left side of the photo.
Bottom line: This is quite a hike! Highly recommended.