The Most Popular Trails & Walking Tours
McAfee Knob: It's the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. Start the hike at Rt 311 trail-head where you can choose to hike the A.T. or fire-trail (for 2/3 of the way to summit). There are no surprises on this hike, just be prepared to cover 7 mi. total. The A.T. passes 2 shelters and provides more changeable scenery than the fire-trail route, but it does require more effort to traverse its curvy nature. Hiking is not very difficult, but the tiring length of this trail gives it a Moderate rating (see Video)
Tinker Cliffs: It's the most conspicuous mountain in view from McAfee Knob. This photo of the cliffs was taken from McAfee. However, the two hikes are completely different. This hike starts at valley level, Rt 779, follows the Andy Layne Trail to Scorched Earth Gap where it meets the A.T. to cliffs summit. Though some stretches of trail are extremely acute and hike's total distance nears 8 mi, the rewards on top are fantastic. The remote location allows for more wildlife, esp. birds, and the view offers rare angles of ridges.
Catawba Rocks: Want an easy hike with a great overlook? Try this! Great for beginners, take the A.T. south from Rt 311 trail-head, and in less-than a mile, a large and unusual rock formation becomes a magnet to explore. The trail starts atop the ridge-line so there are no extreme ascents, though the trail traverses some exciting landscapes. This hike is often offered as a FREE guided hike by Excihiking (see our BOOKING page). The easy access to this location makes this hike a gem any time of year.
Apple Orchard Falls: At over 100' high, this falls is one of the largest in SW Virginia. Better yet, the trail is perfect for a day's hike into Appalachian wilderness! The 2 mi route to the falls parallels a babbling brook where rest breaks can be copiously refreshing. The hike gets a bit rocky nearing the goal, but heck, you're almost there. Under optimum conditions, the roar of the falls is so great that a talk to friends becomes a yell. Hike up along the falls to explore and see a unforgettable view of the Appalachians, and the valley you just hiked.
Dragon's Tooth: Get the best bang for the buck! This 2 mi hike is all up and sometimes a battle for each step. The first half follows a moderate climb which wriggles up a ridge-side; the second half is brutally rocky with hands-on hoisting required in places (Hats-off to the little doggy and super-seniors that made it). Once there, the view is spectacular! The rock slab "tooth" itself can be mounted, though dangerous, but the rocky ascent has acclimated the hiker to handle such features, accidents rare. You can feel the enormity of an opposing Appalachian ridge (photo) which heightens glory, a hard place to leave.
Fossil Hunt: Feel the timeless origin of the Appalachians with a laid-back search of this ancient creek area. More than a stream bank, a large delta or flat lies in a cove where a tributary connects. This flat contains many gulches and washes filled with tons of rocks and rock-chips, some containing fossils. These fossils are over 250 million years old, dating back to the Paleozoic Era. Better yet, this area is located amidst the Appalachian Trail, deep in rustic wilderness. A very short hike from parking, take all day to explore. Great for hot summer days.
Eastern Continental Divide: Hike to what feels like the top-of-the-world! This extensive section of the Appalachian Trail uses 3 stages to attain a massive ridge-side from the valley floor. This ridge divides water flowing into the Atlantic from that flowing to the Gulf of Mexico (thus the name). Huge mountains and ridges seem to go on forever from this vantage, boosting a planetary feeling, wow! But come prepared, it's a long hike over a very lightly traveled trail, at times, making navigation difficult. Inquiry us for help or info.
Other Notable Adventures We Support
Carvins Cove Natural Reserve: Take advantage of this massive area of trails and recreational opportunities. Located only minutes from downtown Roanoke, 3 parking areas allow access to all ends of this wilderness zone surrounding a huge reservoir (providing Roanoke's municipal water). Hike, jog or bike the numerous trails (to many to mention- see our Ultimate Guide video). Go fishing, boating or even kayak the large lake while a daytime picnic can be held near the main parking lot located at the end of Reservoir Rd. So close to Roanoke, spend all day in this outback and then be back in your room in minutes. This gem should not be overlooked!